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UN Helps Haiti Chase 5,100 Runaway Prisoners

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The Haitian government and the United Nations are working closely to capture 5,100 prisoners who escaped from Haiti's jails in the wake of the January 12 devastating earthquake.

Vicenzo Pugliene, spokesman for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, told reporters on Tuesday that "the most important thing" was that there is no evidence of renewed gang activity.

He said that so far 25 escapees have been captured in Port-au-Prince and 11 in Jacmel, a tourist city on the nation's southern coast.

Pugliene said as many as 80 percent of those in Haiti's jails were suspects awaiting trial rather than convicted criminals.

Haiti's slum neighborhoods like Cite Soleil were often run by street gangs.

Pugliene said the United Nations has 990 police on the ground now, and another 1,110 foreign riot police are on their way.

The National Police of Haiti is working to identify those who escaped with the help of prison databases and US consultants are being brought in to draft plans for 50 to 100 new buildings to house the nation's convicts.

(Xinhua News Agency January 27, 2010)

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