/ 2 February 2013

UN names Nigel Fisher as acting head of Haiti mission

To oversee the world body's peacekeeping mission in the Caribbean nation.

Nigel Fisher, a Canadian, replaces outgoing UN envoy Mariano Fernandez, who is leaving the job after 20 months. Fernandez has said he may consider a foray into politics in his native Chile.

Fisher has been Ban Ki-moon's Deputy Special Representative for Haiti since 2010. That year, a massive earthquake struck the country, killing tens of thousands of people and leaving 1.5 million more homeless.

He joined the international organisation in 1977, and has held senior positions in the UN Office for Project Support Services, the UN Mission of Support in Afghanistan and the children's agency Unicef. His assignments have taken him to a dozen countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

As head of peacekeeping, Fisher will oversee the country's security at a politically delicate time. Haiti this year is supposed to hold legislative and local elections, which are expected to be fraught by protests.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym Minustah, has been in the country since 2004, when a violent rebellion ousted then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The force currently is authorised to have up to 6 700 military personnel. – Sapa-AP