Blue helmets in Haiti return school once used by drug gangs to local authorities

Brazilian peacekeepers working with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) have handed back to local authorities in a notorious district of the capital a school that was seized from drug gangs earlier this year.

The Ecole Nationale de Cité Soleil, from the slum district of the same name, will be rehabilitated with funds from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN spokesperson Michele Montas said today.

The hand-over took place during a short ceremony yesterday involving Col. Barrosso Magno, commander of the Mission's Brazilian contingent, which had been using the site its temporary headquarters.

The return of the school "is a sign of change for Cité," Col. Magno said, referring to the district of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where crime and gang activity has been most rampant in recent decades.

MINUSTAH has been working actively with UN Police (UNPOL) and Haitian National Police (PNH) to locate and arrest key gang leaders and to disrupt and reduce their criminal activities.

Elected officials in Cité Soleil yesterday also returned to work at the bullet-scarred town hall, which has become functional again, thanks to a joint effort by the Haitian Government, the PNH and the Brazilian contingent in MINUSTAH.