Ecuador Sends ‘Blue Helmets’ to Haiti

By Dialogo
July 17, 2012

On July 13, Ecuador sent a new Military contingent to the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), where it will carry out construction projects worth 15 million dollars to rebuild the country following the earthquake of January 12, 2010, the South American nation’s Armed Forces announced.

The 66 ‘blue helmets’ departed from the Air Force base in Quito and will replace an equal number of Soldiers who have finished their deployment.

The contingent will continue with construction engineering tasks, together with Chilean Military personnel quartered at MINUSTAH’s Camp Charlie in Port-au-Prince, according to the announcement.

These Soldiers “are ambassadors of peace and good will, who will have the eyes of the entire world upon them for the work they are going to carry out to benefit the people of Haiti,” the operations director of the Ecuadorean Armed Forces Joint Command, Wagner Bravo, said during a farewell ceremony.

The Military personnel will also be responsible for construction projects to rebuild roads, bridges, schools, and residences in the agricultural region of Artibonite, for which the Ecuadorean Government has destined 15 million dollars, according to a recent announcement by President Rafael Correa.

The president made the announcement during a visit to Quito by his Haitian counterpart, Michel Martelly, during which he recalled that in an initial phase of cooperation, Ecuador invested 13.5 million dollars to build 138 paved bridges, improve approximately 175 km of roads, clean irrigation canals, and build sewer systems.

The earthquake of January 12, 2010, left more than 200,000 dead.

MINUSTAH was created by the UN to replace the multinational force of 3,600 Soldiers, composed chiefly of U.S. and French personnel, that arrived in Haiti in February 2004 seeking to reestablish security and facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid following the departure of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

On June 11, Correa and Martelly agreed that the Ecuadorean Armed Forces will advise Haiti on setting up its new Army and that Haitian police officers will continue to receive training at Ecuadorean academies.