Haiti braces for hurricane

Nearly 12,000 United Nations peacekeepers are on emergency standby in Haiti as tropical storm Emily barrels towards the impoverished Caribbean country, which is still struggling to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and displaced 2.3 million others.

Some contingents of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, which comprises 8,500 troops and 3,000 police, have already been deployed as a precautionary measure in regions that are most at risk from the storm, which is expected to hit the country overnight.

These forces are in position on the ground in Gonaïves and Les Cayes and on standby in Port-au-Prince should rescue operations be needed, and the mission has set up two crisis centers to coordinate action.

Last November, Hurricane Tomas caused widespread flooding, unleashing a cholera epidemic that killed hundreds and infected some 20,000 people.

MINUSTAH, which has been on the ground in Haiti since mid-2004 after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest, includes a contingent of 1,000 military engineers, whose work could be critical in the event of serious flooding.

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