UNITED NATIONS – Caribbean nations are appealing to the international community to provide security assistance to end the rebellion in Haiti and help restore law and order.
Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell of the Bahamas, speaking to a special U.N. General Assembly meeting on behalf of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (search), said Friday that gangs seeking to overthrow the government must be disarmed.
The United Nations "has a crucial role to play in developing and executing solutions to this urgent crisis," Mitchell said.
But there was no mention by U.N. Undersecretary-General Kieran Prendergast or the 10 other speakers of sending peacekeepers to the poverty-stricken Caribbean island.
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere was the only one to raise the possibility of assisting with security.
His country would, if necessary, support a plan proposed by the Caribbean Community and the Organization of American States that dispatch a force composed of civilian police officers from different nations to help enforce a peace plan in Haiti.
La Sabliere warned that if the chaos continues in the country it "could only lead to a humanitarian catastrophe."
Opponents are trying to topple Haiti's president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide (search), and have taken control of several key cities in a rebellion that has killed some 60 people since Feb. 5.
Miller warned that the crisis could prompt a mass exodus from Haiti that would affect neighboring nations, including the United States, as did turmoil there in the 1990s.
"The world community must not abandon Haiti and the Haitian people to this fate again," he said.
Miller urged the 191 U.N. member states to support the Caribbean Community initiative "to the fullest extent that your resources allow."
A high-level delegation from the Caribbean bloc and other concerned nations will be in Haiti this weekend to speak to leaders of the government and the opposition to seek a political settlement.
Haiti's U.N. Ambassador Jean Alexandre (search) expressed the urgent need to find a negotiated solution to the crisis and said the government was prepared to implement a peace plan presented by the Caribbean Community nations on Jan. 31.
But Prendergast was less optimistic.
"With the positions of the government and the opposition hardening, dialogue and negotiations have become increasingly unlikely," he said.
Prendergast said Secretary-General Kofi Annan plans to appoint a special adviser for Haiti to maintain contacts with mediators, assess the situation and advise him on possible future U.N. roles in the country.