Haiti Leader Calls For ‘Red Helmet’ UN Force
By Dialogo April 02, 2010Haitian President René Préval has given his backing to the creation of a UN "red helmet" humanitarian rapid reaction force which could swing into action within hours of natural disasters. In a speech before a donor’s conference at the UN headquarters on Wednesday to pledge help for his quake-hit nation, Préval argued there was a "need for creating a humanitarian intervention force under the auspices of the UN to coordinate response to disasters, which are bound to occur." Along with the January 12 quake that left over 220,000 people dead, Préval said recent major natural disasters such as the December 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and 2008's Cyclone Nargis that struck Myanmar highlighted the need for rapid intervention to save the maximum numbers of lives. Préval was backed in his call by former French minister Nicole Guedj, who founded the "Red Helmet Foundation," to lobby for the humanitarian force. UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called the goal "a good project that deserves study and reflection," he added. Wednesday's conference ended with some 50 international donors making 9.9-billion-dollars in pledges in a bid to help Haiti recover from the devastating earthquake.