Originally: United States and Canada pledge more help to Haiti as top Argentine envoy visits U.N. peacekeeping troops

United States and Canada pledge more help to Haiti as top Argentine envoy visits U.N. peacekeeping troops

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti_ In back-to-back signing ceremonies, Canada and the United States announced multimillion dollar projects to help Haiti, as a top Argentine defense official visited U.N. troops trying to stabilize the nation.

Just hours before ending his tenure in Haiti, Canada?s Ambassador Kenneth Cook announced $US 1.43 million in funding for Haitian reconstruction programs. Later, U.S. Ambassador James B. Foley announced US$6 million in funding aimed at rebuilding Haiti?s police and judiciary.

Already the poorest country in the Americas, Haiti was ravaged by an armed rebellion in February, which led to the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his government. In May, floods delivered another blow, killing 3,000 on the Haitian-Dominican border.

The Haitian National Police, already weakened by corruption, a lack of funding and a shortage of officers, were victimized in February?s uprising, with rebels storming police stations and jails, and brutally killing several police officers.

The U.S. funding will be spent to fight drugs and to help the riot police, as well as helping with investigations into corruption, Foley said.

“There is a serious increase in criminality in Haiti, and notably of kidnappings, in the last weeks and months,” Foley said after the ceremony.

Cook, who will return to Canada, has held diplomatic posts in Togo, Senegal, Spain, Greece and Venezuela.

“I leave Haiti with a great satisfaction for having had an unforgettable experience, participating in a country unlike any other,” he said.

Argentina?s Defense Minister Jose Juan Bautista Pampuro, meanwhile, visited Haiti?s northern town of Gonaives where the rebellion began and where Argentine troops have taken over peacekeeping responsibilities in a U.N. mission.

As Pampuro was visiting the 440 troops in Gonaives, more than 100 other troops from the South American nation arrived in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

There are 2,422 U.N. troops and 233 international police currently in Haiti. The United Nations has authorized a total of 6,700 troops and 1,622 police for the mission.

“There is great humanitarian need,” said Pampuro.

Brazil is leading the U.N. force, which is still struggling to disarm factions loyal to the rebels who ousted Aristide on Feb. 29, and Aristide?s Lavalas Family party.