13 February 2007Some of Haiti’s poorest people can now go about their daily business free from the fear of being terrorized by armed gangs following a large-scale United Nations security operation in the Boston area of the Cité Soleil quarter of Port-au-Prince, the capital, according to the top UN commander in the country. “The situation has been stabilized and UN troops have re-established conditions in this quarter for the Government and international organizations to work there for the wellbeing of the population,” UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) Military Force Commander Major-General Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz told a news conference yesterday in Port-au-Prince. “Under no circumstances can MINUSTAH troops accept that the local population should be victims of armed violence,” he added, referring to the four-day operation which ended yesterday and is part of an ongoing campaign by UN peacekeepers against criminal gangs in the capital. Some 700 UN troops took part in the operation, which was aimed at dismantling the band of a gang chief named Evans and led to the arrest of 38 presumed bandits in Cité Soleil and elsewhere, and the seizure of battle materiel, including assault rifles, bipods for automatic weaponry, more than five thousands rounds of ammunition, sabres, daggers, knives, telescopes and portable radio communications equipment. UN Police continue to patrol Cite-Soleil and Martissant areas in the capital. MINUSTAH, set up in 2004 to help re-establish peace in the impoverished Caribbean country after an insurgency forced then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to go into exile, has reported that armed criminal gangs are forcing children to take part in their operations, often under threat of killing them, and using them as human shields in confrontations with the police.