By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS – The international community must make a commitment of at least 20 years to bring peace to Haiti and raise living standards in the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation, the special U.N. envoy said.

Returning from a 10-day trip to Haiti, envoy Reginald Dumas told reporters Tuesday that 10 international missions to Haiti in the last decade had failed because there was no sustained commitment.

“We cannot continue with the start-stop cycle that has characterized relations between the international community and Haiti. You go in, you spend a couple of years, you leave, the Haitians are not necessarily involved and the whole thing collapses. This has to stop,” Dumas said he told the council.

The United Nations (newsweb sites) and a U.S.-led multinational force are trying to stabilize Haiti after a three-week rebellion led Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to flee a month ago. U.N. peacekeepers, probably led by Brazil, are to take over the force in early June, Dumas said.

“Clearly, a lot of people in Haiti are not exactly thrilled with the thought of yet another mission, especially when it is an armed mission,” he said.

“There has to be a long-term commitment, which I perceive the council is ready and willing to give,” Dumas said, adding that he thinks it should be “not less than 20 years.”

“It must be coordinated assistance. It must be sustained assistance, and it must be assistance that involves the people of Haiti. It cannot be a situation in which the U.N. or some other agency goes in a says `I have this for you.’ There has to be discussion. There has to be cooperation, or else it will fail again,” he warned.

While the situation has improved since his initial visit, when he couldn’t leave the capital Port-au-Prince, Dumas said “the institutions of Haiti have virtually collapsed in terms of health, education, justice, human rights, the police…” In addition, drugs continue to pass through the country, armed gangs terrorize civilians, and there is “a great deal of kidnapping for ransom,” he said.

Haiti’s interim leaders are trying to start rebuilding, but the United Nations has raised just a little over a quarter of the $35 million in emergency relief needed to help the shattered country, and Cabinet minister say they don’t have money to do anything.

The political situation also remains unsettled.

Chile’s U.N. Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, whose country has contributed troops to the multinational force, said council members noted some contrary “political signals.”

Prime Minister Gerard Latortue’s government has not been recognized by Caribbean leaders, who criticized him at a summit last week for praising as “freedom fighters” the rebels, including convicted assassins, who helped bring about Aristide’s downfall.

The Caribbean Community called again at the summit for a U.N.-led investigation into claims that Aristide was removed from office by American soldiers.

Jamaica’s U.N. envoy, whose country heads the 15-nation community, was trying to reach General Assembly President Julian Hunte to discuss the possibility of the 191-nation world body “examining the situation,” General Assembly spokeswoman Michele Montas said.