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United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH)
 

 

 

UNMIH was established in September 1993 to help implement provisions of the Governors Island Agreement of 3 July 1993. The mandate was later revised to enable the Mission to assist the democratic Government to sustain a stable environment, professionalize the armed forces and create a separate police force, and establish an environment conducive to free and fair elections. 

 
Background

Prior to Pakistani troops' arrival in Haiti in March 1995, the region was in deplorable state, both economically and administratively, due to prolonged infighting and political turmoil. Successive dictatorial regimes had made the island of Haiti a living hell. The economy, communication infrastructure, and state institutions were all in shambles. All the civic amenities like schools, hospitals, electricity, potable water and food supply systems had collapsed. The miseries of people were further aggravated due to poor state of law and order in the country since police and army were virtually non existent. Under these circumstances the contingents of Multi National Force headed by the US intervened and contributed immensely to improve the situation in Haiti . Thereafter the baton was passed to United Nations and it established United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). It was tasked to coordinate United Nations efforts to support the Government of Haiti in restoration of democracy, promoting institution building national re conciliation and economic rehabilitation and to attain environments conducive to the establishment of an effective police force.

On the request of the United Nations, Pakistan provided one Infantry battalion to form part of UNMIH.

This battalion, ‘PAKBAT', arrived in Haiti in March 1995 and was deployed in Cape Haitien . At that time this area faced extremely volatile security situation and was also reputed to be the hotbed of political restlessness. In order to improve the security situation, PAKBAT started to discharge its responsibilities with an extensive patrolling programme covering north, northeast and central regions. These patrols quickly became conduit for cordial relationship between the local population and peace keepers. It gave confidence to soldiers wearing blue berets, the Haitian National Police and other government functionaries which led to degree of stability and cooperation in the region. PAKBAT also played a significant role in holding free and fair elections in the northern reaches of Haiti which was appreciated by local as well as foreign media.

For humanitarian assistance, food distribution among impoverished people of Haiti was one programme. While much of the food was supplied by NGOs, PAKBAT troops even distributed their own quota of rations to hard pressed population, hence earned good-will. Scarcity of potable water being another serious problem, PAKBAT surveyed region's potable water requirements, pinpointing locations where water points were urgently required and helped NGOs to repair and install-water pumps and bring water to remote areas. On one such occasion, PAKBAT learnt of an orphanage that had no potable water. A patrol quickly supplied bottled water and biscuits and installed a functioning water pump there.

PAKBAT troops also provided assistance in connection with road repairs and reconstruction of schools. Besides adding new class rooms to existing school buildings, they also installed lights in the parks and streets to facilitate study by students at night. In recognition of FAKBAT efforts, a school was named “ Pakistan School ”.

Prior to arrival of United Nations troops in Haiti , the Police department had almost become ineffective due to incessant fighting and the breakdown of government machinery. A large number of police stations were burnt down and abandoned. PAKBAT undertook renovation and repair of numerous important police stations to facilitate the Haitien National Police under a United Nations programme which enabled the local people to heave a sigh of relief in an eroded law and order environment. Mr Enerique ter Horst, United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative in Haiti while appreciating the services of Pakistani troops said, “since the arrival of Pakistan Battalion in Haiti the United Nations has realized that Pakistan Army is not only a formidable fighting force but peace keepers and peace builders in the best sense of the word. The way in which they have participated in the reconstruction and humanitarian assistance programmes beyond the call of duty to ensue stable environment, makes me confident that United Nations shall very soon attain the objectives of its mission in Haiti.'. It was due to PAKBAT's excellent contributions in peace keeping that the United Nations decided to retain them under its new United Nations Support Mission in Haiti despite force reduction.

The missionary zeal and enthusiasm of PAKBAT can be judged from an incident which occurred in Cape Haiten . A huge fire broke out in a two storey building in a very densely populated area. It threatened the adjacent localities seriously which could have put the lives of many people in jeopardy. Upon learning of the fire, PAKBAT immediately deployed their quick reaction force at the site. The meager resources of the local fire brigade were also beefed up. The courage and determination of PAI

The local media and government functionaries appreciated the efforts, which immensely helped in developing good relations with the local populace. In another tragic incident a three Storey building collapsed during demolition work in Cite Soleil a shanty town of the capital Fort au Prince. Fifty workers were buried under the rubble. The FAKBAT immediately undertook the rcscue operations and worked hard into the night under difficult circumstances in an attempt to locate and evacuatc the survivors. The relief operation was widely appreciated. The Secretary General's Special Representative in Haiti Mr Enerique ter Horste, on the personal dcsirc of the President of Haiti, Mr Renc Prcval sent lctters of appreciation to the PAKBAT personncl in recognition of their commendable services. On his visit to PAK CAMP on the independence Day of Pakistan , the President of Haiti expressed gratitude of the Haitien people for services rendered by Pakistani troops for the restoration of democracy in Haiti . He said, “I express my deep appreciation and gratitude to the people of Pakistan , the Pakistan Army and its valiant soldiers for their manifestations filled with utmost sincerity, friendship and solidarity.” 

 
Duration
  • 8 March 1995 to 1998

Participation
  • 2x Infantry Units (525 all ranks)
  • Staff Persons (19 Officers, One Junior Commissioned Officer and 7x Other Ranks)
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