Bleak prospects for int’l force as Haiti sinks deeper into crisis

United Nations, Apr 26 (EFE).- With the situation in Haiti growing worse by the day, all 15 members of the United Nations Security Council agreed Wednesday on the need for urgent assistance, but none volunteered to lead an international force to support Haitian police against heavily armed gangs.

“Gang violence is expanding at an alarming rate in areas previously considered relatively safe in Port-au-Prince and outside the capital,” Maria Isabel Salvador, head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), told the Security Council.

Between April 14 and April 19, according to BINUH, 70 people died in gang clashes in Cite Soleil, the largest slum in the Haitian capital.

The number of murders, rapes, and kidnappings more than doubled in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period of 2022, from 692 to 1,694, the Ecuadorian businesswoman and former government official said.

With authorities seemingly incapable of curbing the violence, Haitians are turning to vigilantism, Salvador said, pointing to the recent lynching of more than a dozen suspected gang members.

“These dynamics,” she said, “lead inevitably to the tearing of the social fabric with unpredictable consequences for the entire region.”

Last October, the government of unelected Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry requested the formation of an international security force to restore order in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres immediately asked the Security Council to put together a force that would intervene in Haiti with UN authorization, but not under the UN flag, as many Haitians have bitter memories of “Blue Helmets.”

The United States and Canada have led conversations about an intervention, but neither wants to be involved directly.

“The United States continues to work with a growing number of international partners to support the urgent security needs in the country,” Washington’s deputy representative at the UN, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, said, urging the Security Council to impose additional sanctions against Haitians who finance and instigate violence.

Speaking for Canada, Ambassador Robert Rae likewise called sanctions an “important tool to break the power of armed gangs,” and said that Ottawa will increase assistance to Haiti’s National Police Force.

“We need to find innovative ways to define the force to support the Haitian National Police,” Salvador said.

“Time is of the essence, and the Haitian people deserve your urgent action. If not supported, the vicious circle of violence, political, social, and economic crisis, in which the people struggle every day, will continue to turn. Breaking this daunting circle must not be delayed. The Haitian people cannot wait. We need to act now,” she said.

In subsequent remarks to journalists, Salvador expressed the hope that Latin American and Caribbean countries would take the initiative to aid Haiti.

“Regional crises require regional reactions and actions,” she said. EFE


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