United Nations: United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti Juan Gabriel Valdes is currently attending a European Union (EU) donors’ conference in Brussels with the hope of creating an emergency fund for the French-speaking Caribbean country.

Valdes, who heads the peacekeeping UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (Minustah), said international aid to his country was lagging behind pledges, and money was needed to conduct essential elections this year.

The UN Security Council urged the transitional government in Haiti to work with Minustah in developing a “phased electoral plan,” aimed at finalising a feasible electoral calendar.

The Council also urged the authorities to publish the final list of candidates for the elections and, in consultation with Minustah, agree on a list of voting centres.

“Haiti is at a critical juncture,” said Gheorghe Dumitru of Romania, the Security Council President. “While, ultimately, the responsibility for Haiti ‘s future lies with its government and people, the international community must continue to provide support.”

Dumitru said the donors’ conference constitutes an important opportunity to further elaborate on short, medium and long-term strategies, within a unified framework, “to ensure coordination and continuity in a coherent and well-prioritised response to Haitian problems.”

In his recent report on Minustah, Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed to the international community to immediately honour pledges to assist Haiti.

“It is now urgent that pledges be fully disbursed and that the necessary resources be made available to cover the entire cost of the electoral process,” he said.

Annan said despite recent improvements in the security situation and the success of large-scale joint security operations, more needs to be done to maintain pressure on illegal armed groups.

“Security operations should be accompanied by humanitarian and development assistance,” he said, “for which the necessary resources should be provided in a timely manner. Bilateral donor assistance will also be required to permit a meaningful response to the security threats posed by drug and weapon flows.”

Last week, Annan reiterated his call for aid to Haiti at the Ibero-American Summit in Salamanca, Spain, stating that the country needs the money to break the cycle of violence.

“I appeal to donor countries for timely and sustained financial recovery for Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction,” he told leaders from Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

Annan’s revised budget proposal for the mission in Haiti amounts to about 518.83m US dollars, which represents a 10.4 per cent increase over the previous proposal.

It calls for a total revised strength of 7,500 military contingent personnel and 1,897 civilian police.

In addition, the proposed budget provides for the temporary recruitment of 17 international staff, 30 national staff and 18 United Nations volunteers.

Speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Paulette Bethel of the Bahamas told the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, which addresses the revised budget, Haiti was at “a critical juncture.”

“Sustained assistance of the international community – through Minustah – was indispensable for progress to take place,” she said.