By Dialogo October 14, 2009 The UN Security Council voted to extend the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti for another year and to keep its strength at current levels pending a hike in Haitian police capacity. The 15-member council unanimously adopted Resolution 1892 that extends the mandate of the force known as MINUSTAH, which expires Thursday, until October 15 next year “with the intention of further renewal.” It also endorsed a recommendation in UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s report issued last month “to maintain the current mission overall force levels until the planned substantial increase of the Haitian National Police capacity allows for a reassessment of the situation.” And it backed Ban’s call for adjusting MINUSTAH’s configuration to “better meet current requirements on the ground.” The Council therefore endorsed the UN chief’s suggestion that the force’s military component be reduced by 120 troops to up to 6,940 with a corresponding increase of police to 2,211. Last month, Ban said in his report that it was essential to keep a “substantial international military and police presence” on the ground and at current levels” in Haiti. He noted that MINUSTAH was unlikely to need to conduct large-scale security sweeps such as those launched jointly with Haitian police in early 2007 against armed gangs which controlled some of the poorest neighborhoods of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. “It would therefore be desirable to enhance the mission’s operational ability to deploy rapidly and to monitor remote locations, including border areas and the country’s coastline,” his report said. Haiti has long been a major shipment point for drugs, arms and contraband en route to the United States and Europe from South America. The Brazilian-led MINUSTAH has been keeping the peace in the impoverished Caribbean island nation of eight million people since mid-2004.