UN chief proposes rapid action force for Haiti

United Nations, Oct 9 (EFE).- United Nations Secretary General António Guterres on Sunday urged the international community to send a “rapid action force” to Haiti to help its government recover control of Port-au-Prince from the armed gangs that dominate parts of the capital and block the supply of fuel and other basic goods.

Guterres suggests that the operation not be carried out under the umbrella of the United Nations, but rather be led by a member state that would execute it alone or with the support of other nations, according to a letter sent to the UN Security Council and seen by EFE.

“The force would, in particular, support the HNP (Haiti National Police) primarily in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area in securing the free movement of water, fuel, food and medical supplies from main ports and airports to communities and health care facilities,” the letter said.

To this end, Guterres proposes that these foreign troops support the Haitian police in their efforts to “remove the threat posed by armed gangs and provide immediate protection to critical infrastructure and services.”

Haiti’s government this week requested military assistance to deal with the humanitarian crisis in the country, where armed groups have become strong in areas of Port-au-Prince and have blocked the main oil terminal.

Guterres said in the letter that the Security Council should welcome the commissioning of this force and that the UN could deploy additional capabilities to support a ceasefire or humanitarian arrangements and ensure the coordination of these tasks with international troops.

Under his proposal, the rapid action force can be phased out as the National Police regain control of key infrastructure and begin to restore security.

In the medium term, Guterres proposes two options: that a group of countries establish an international police task force to advise and train Haitian police or that they create a “special force” with officers from abroad to combat armed gangs.

In both cases, the UN chief proposes that action be taken at the invitation of the Haitian government and bilaterally, since the country’s authorities have indicated that they prefer not to deploy a new UN peacekeeping force.

The UN had blue helmets in Haiti between 2004 and 2017, a presence that was replaced by a police operation that lasted two years and then by a political and advisory mission to the institutions, present today.

The Security Council asked Guterres months ago to present options to strengthen support for Haiti in terms of security, but the situation in the country has deteriorated rapidly in recent weeks, and an outbreak of cholera has also been detected. It is feared this could spread very quickly given the current crisis.

In parallel, the member states of the highest decision-making body of the UN are considering measures to respond to the violence, including possible sanctions against the leaders of the armed gangs and the imposition of an embargo that prohibits the sale of weapons to these groups. EFE


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