Originally: UN troops in Haiti take control of Cite Soleil – Brazilian commander

Brasilia: After a 20-day long operation carried out in Cite Soleil, the largest shantytown in Haiti, the commander of the UN peacekeeping forces, Brazilian General Augusto Heleno, said that life in the region has returned to normal. Following the operation, Jordanian troops have taken over in the area and are carrying out constant patrols.

“We carried out the operation in Cite Soleil using two battalions: one Brazilian and one Jordanian. The two battalions made a coordinated attack to clean up the Cite Soleil area. After the operation, the Jordanian troops occupied the area,” he explained, in an exclusive telephone interview with Agencia Brasil.

On 14 December, 1,600 men from the UN peacekeeping force conducted an operation in the largest shantytown in Port-au-Prince. The aim of the operation was to wrest control of the area from the hands of gangs and armed groups, as well as to return two police stations within Cite Soleil to the Haitian National Police.

According to Gen Heleno, the area was paralysed. “Schools, hospitals and some of the street traders had ceased to function. There was no-one to be seen on the streets, walking about normally. There were even some places where it seemed that they had been abandoned as a result of these criminal activities,” he said.

Heleno gave a positive assessment of the operation. “There were no deaths resulting from the exchange of fire with the UN. There was a lot of shooting, both by the Jordanian troops and our own and on the part of the bandits, but our shots were fired more in warning and for protection, rather than at human targets.”

The general predicts that other interventions in critical areas will be carried out in the coming months. “We hope to act in the same way that we did in Cite Soleil to head up these poor districts and to have a collective Haitian National Police and International Civil Police presence,” he said.