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Haitian schoolchildren going to a tent school
Security at the hundreds of makeshift refugee camps in Haiti's capital continues to be of concern, more than three months after January's earthquake.

While officials insist that the situation remains under control, the head of the United Nations mission has announced that he wants the Security Council to send an extra 800 police officers to provide safety.

Mr Mulet said that the next 12 to 18 months will be "critical" as UN forces help local officers to provide "a more visible presence" in the camps.

This would be in addition to other duties to support the holding of elections, the coordination of "post-disaster" humanitarian aid and eventual reconstruction.

Concerning security, one key issue is the fear that the number of sexual assaults against women and girls may increase because of inadequate security in the camps.

Rape was only criminalised in Haiti in 2005, and the country has experienced some of the highest rates of it in the world.

Lack of privacy

Last month, rights group Amnesty International said sexual violence was widespread in the shelters in Haiti.

It said: "Authorities in Haiti must prioritise strengthening the police presence in camps, especially at night, including capacity to protect women and girls from sexual violence and to respond adequately to reported cases."

Haitians and UN security
The UN said they were concerned about privacy in Haiti

Speaking after a visit to Haiti this month, the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Asha-Rose Migiro, admitted that she was troubled by the lack of privacy in many of tents.

Ms Migoro said she had seen tents crowded together and where sometimes two makeshift shelters were supported with only one pole, leaving one side open.

Worried about security, refugees themselves have organised security patrols.

Martine Jocile, who set up a team of volunteers, told the BBC: "The members of the community came together and created a posse of sorts to protect the women in the camp.

"They were sleeping in long trousers and long shirts to prevent attacks so we patrol to prevent people from other areas coming in and raping them."


However, General Geraldo Chaumont, Police Commissioner of the UN mission in Haiti, has insisted that there has been no noticeable spike in reported sex crimes.

He said: "The number of rapes that have been recorded during the recent period do not surpass the average number of rapes prior to the earthquake.

"On the other hand, I would like to emphasize that we have arrested over 15 rapists so it's not as though the crime is going unpunished."

The police chief said the major problem in Haiti was not crime and security but trying to provide proper shelter for the tens of thousands before the rainy season arrives.

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