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As Cholera Outbreak Exacerbates Haiti's Multiple Crises, Special Representative Says Security Council Must Act Decisively to Help Government Restore Order, Save Lives – Haiti – ReliefWeb

Haiti
SC/15064
9153RD MEETING (PM)
Country’s Foreign Minister Stresses Population Surviving, Not Living, Urging Support for Haitian National Police to Tackle Gang Violence, Humanitarian Crisis
With the spread of cholera exacerbating the ongoing security, humanitarian, economic, and political crisis faced by Haiti, the Security Council must act — “and decisively so” — in response to its Government’s request for support to its institutions to restore order, and to save thousands of lives that will otherwise be lost, the United Nations top official for that country told the Security Council today, as Council members weighed in on two draft resolutions under consideration.
Helen La Lime, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), briefing the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Office, described a grim situation unfolding in the country, with the rapid spread of cholera claiming many lives and gang members continuing to block the Varreux terminal, the main repository for the country’s fuel, disrupting access to hospitals and water suppliers, further impacting the medical and humanitarian response to the outbreak.
A comprehensive resolution to the crises requires a Haitian-led political solution, which remains elusive, she pointed out, describing a situation of civil unrest and violence, which has led to the severe undermining of basic rights across the country. Recalling that on 7 October, the Prime Minister of Haiti requested the support of a specialized international armed force to help secure the free movement of water, fuel, and medical supplies, she reiterated the Secretary-General’s call on Haiti’s partners to consider the request as a matter of urgency for the immediate relief of the most vulnerable.
In the ensuing debate, Council members expressed concern about the spread of cholera, calling for swift action to be taken to stop it and to ensure the delivery of aid and medical care to those in need. While supporting BINUH’s attempts to address the political deadlock and enable the holding of elections, some Council members expressed concern at the dangerous vacuum that prevailed in the meantime, impacting the country’s most vulnerable. Many expressed alarm about the severe insecurity and violence gripping the country, leading to human rights abuses against women and children, with several members voicing support for robust measures to be taken to address the perpetrators of such violence.
The representative of the United States underscored the need for urgent Council action, strong cooperation and a concerted international response to address the immense crisis in the country. The United States and Mexico have drafted two resolutions in this regard, she said. The first draft would impose financial sanctions on criminal actors responsible for gang violence, arms trafficking, attacks on United Nations personnel, human rights abuses and sexual and gender-based violence, while the second draft would authorize a limited, carefully scoped, non-United Nations international security assistance mission to improve the security situation and enable the flow of desperately needed humanitarian aid, she said.
The representative of Kenya, also speaking for Gabon and Ghana, underlined the need for Haiti’s Government, political class and civil society to deliver mediating starting points on a process to overcome the political impasse, address insecurity, recover the rule of law, deliver humanitarian aid and provide economic relief. He emphasized the need for inclusive dialogue, with the strong participation of women and youth, to facilitate an agreed common approach to deliver constitutionally based political reforms and free and fair democratic elections, warning that the lack of an agreement risks the security and humanitarian situation sliding out of control.
In a similar vein, the speaker for China called on all Haitian political parties and factions to agree on the political architecture and transitional agreement to restore the constitutional order, with BINUH playing a role in delivering a road map for the political process. However, he advised caution about the Secretary-General’s proposal, stressing: “At a time when the Haitian Government lacks legitimacy and is unable to govern, will sending such a rapid action force to Haiti receive the understanding, support and cooperation from parties in Haiti or will it face resistance or even trigger violent confrontation?”
Meanwhile, the delegate of the Russian Federation responded to calls for support by an international armed force to intervene in the crisis, saying many opposition groups do not want foreign intervention. Pointing out that there have been unsuccessful external interferences in the past, he said that such opinions must be taken into account and all consequences of bringing in foreign contingents be weighed. Further, he said he did not share the penholders’ position that unblocking the port infrastructure should be lumped together with introducing a sanctions regime, adding that his delegation does not support the pushing through of a resolution on sanctions.
Jean Victor Geneus, Haiti’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship, then told the Council that the Haitian people are not living but rather surviving, describing a distressing situation unfolding in the country, with 4 million children unable to go to school due to widespread gang violence, murder and rape. While welcoming the draft resolutions of the United States and Mexico, he appealed for active solidarity in tackling the challenge and scourge of gang violence. Amid civil unrest in the country, following the cessation of $400 million in Government fuel subsidies, he said hospitals have either closed or significantly reduced their activities, drinking water has stopped, public transport has diminished, and foodstuffs supplies for the capital and provincial towns have been constrained. The Haitian National Police need robust support to address the humanitarian crisis, neutralize armed gangs, guarantee the free distribution of fuel and facilitate the resumption of activities, he said.
Roberto Álvarez Gil, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, offering the perspective of Haiti’s neighbour, said it is reasonable to expect that the Council will respond favourably to repeated requests for action, particularly to requests made by the Haitian authorities for urgent assistance to curb the excesses, abuses and crimes committed by armed gangs. Stating that his Government has responded to the Haitian Prime Minister’s request for assistance, he went on to express support for Council approval of a regime of sanctions and an arms embargo against individuals and institutions, as the Dominican Republic has already done.
The representative of Belize, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), echoed Council members’ condemnation of the incessant warfare and actions of the gangs that have essentially paralyzed the country and underscored the need to strengthen the Haitian National Police’s capacity to fully restore security and the rule of law. Noting Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s call for short-term assistance to address the security and humanitarian crises, CARICOM officials are carrying out internal consultations to determine the best response, he said.
For her part, Ifigeneia Kontoleontos, Permanent Observer for the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF), noted that the organization’s Secretary General, Louise Mushikiwabo, has in recent months sent two missions to explore ways to bring about a peaceful solution to the country’s difficulties, as well as undertaken consultations to work towards a concerted dynamic around the issue of inter-Haitian dialogue. Outlining other OIF efforts, including mobilizing cooperation around programmes in support of education, democracy consolidation, and capacity-building in areas such as elections and the rule of law, she added that it supports current initiatives to sanction the heads of armed gangs and their backers and will advocate for the prioritization of curbing them, even before organizing elections.
Also speaking were representatives of Mexico, Ireland, India, Brazil, Albania, Norway, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and France.
The meeting began at 3:08 p.m. and ended at 4:59 p.m.
Briefing
HELEN LA LIME, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report,(document S/2022/761, told the Council that, since its last meeting on the country three weeks ago, when she had spoken of three intersecting crises — economic, security, and political — that were accelerating Haiti’s downward spiral, a humanitarian emergency was at its doorstep. “Within four days of those remarks, the Government confirmed the first case of cholera in Haiti in over three years,” she said, adding that dozens more cases were confirmed within weeks, more than half resulting in death, with hundreds more suspected in the West and Centre Departments, adding that 25 of those deaths occurred in the prison of Port-au-Prince alone.
Aside from the spread of cholera, she said gangs continue to blockade the Varreux terminal, where most of the country’s fuel is stored, with severe consequences for Haiti’s basic infrastructure, leading to disruptions in the country’s hospitals and water suppliers and impacting the cholera response. Neither the efforts of the police — which remain critically under-staffed and under-resourced — nor political efforts have succeeded in easing the situation, she said, adding that appeals for a humanitarian corridor by diplomatic corps and the United Nations have gone unheeded.
Turning to the broader situation, which she said is “no better”, she noted that almost a thousand kidnappings were reported in 2022 alone, and general insecurity continues to prevent millions of children from attending classes. She expressed hope the expected arrival this weekend in Port-au-Prince of important Haitian-purchased tactical equipment, delivered by Canada and the United States, will assist the police in regaining control of the situation.
Outlining BINUH’s work in resolving the political situation, she said resolution 2645 (2022) generated a sense of urgency because, for the first time, it asked the Government to report on its effort towards a sustainable, timebound and commonly accepted framework for a political process, led by Haitians. Acting on the decision, she described intensified efforts to bring key actors around the table and, through constant dialogue, maintain momentum among relevant stakeholders to establish a framework for a renewed political process. However, despite BINUH’s efforts, and initial hopeful signs, the talks faltered, she said, describing “a sad sense of déjà vu”, with the spirit of compromise receding and vested interests redirecting the narrative. “These talks are nevertheless continuing, and as late as yesterday a meeting was held among civil society representatives with a view to reviving broad consensus,” she said.
Against this backdrop, she continued, on 7 October, the Prime Minister requested the support of a specialized international armed force to help secure the free movement of water, fuel, and medical supplies to avert the situation deteriorating further. She went on to reiterate the Secretary-General’s call on Haiti’s partners to consider the request as a matter of urgency for the immediate relief of those already most vulnerable.
In other developments, she said while the protests demanding the ouster of the Prime Minister and his Government continue, some see in them yet another reminder of the role of entrenched economic and political interests to resist Government efforts to reform State revenues in the interest of the Treasury and the population. As a result, many Haitians have begun expressing support for sanctions to be deployed against those driving violence to serve their interests. However, she pointed out that the state of civil unrest has led to the undermining of basic rights across the country, with gangs continuing to injure, kidnap, rape and kill. Any comprehensive resolution requires a Haitian-led political solution, which remains elusive and is no longer sufficient to address the current crisis, she said. Therefore, she stressed, “the Council must act, and decisively so,” to support Haitian institutions in their drive for civic order and accountability — and to save thousands of lives that will otherwise be lost.
Statements
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) spotlighted her country’s efforts to assist Haitian health workers and non-governmental organizations in addressing the cholera outbreak, provide humanitarian assistance and coordinate the delivery of vital security equipment to the Haitian National Police. As a problem of Haiti’s magnitude can only be solved through urgent Council action, robust cooperation and a concerted international response, the United States and Mexico have drafted two resolutions. The first would impose financial sanctions on criminal actors responsible for gang violence, arms trafficking, attacks on United Nations personnel, the kidnapping of innocent citizens, human rights abuses and sexual and gender-based violence. The sanctions regime would freeze their assets, prohibit international travel and prevent the direct or indirect supply, selling or transfer of arms to criminal gangs and their leaders, specifically Jimmy Chérizier. It would also go after individuals who block Haiti’s ports and the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The second draft would authorize a limited, carefully scoped, non-United Nations international security assistance mission to improve the security situation and enable the flow of desperately needed humanitarian aid. The mission, she noted, would be led by a partner country with the deep and necessary experience, operate under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter and facilitate international support to the Haitian National Police and Coast Guard. In light of Haiti’s history, the Council and international community must seek a course that better responds to the humanitarian and security crisis in Haiti while directly addressing the Haitian people’s needs, she stressed, adding that the two draft resolutions will help Haiti build a brighter, more secure future.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said the international community is ready to lend support to the Haitian nation, whose people are plagued by the scourge of violence and organized crimes of a cross-border nature. Three weeks ago, the Council noted the need to respond promptly to the situation in Haiti and began working with the United States on two draft two resolutions for Council members’ consideration, he said. The documents respond to the complex situation and establish a sanctions regime focusing on those responsible for the violence, and an arms embargo to prevent gangs from obtaining arms so easily. It is not a question of sanctions against the Government, but against those who strike blows against the Government and terrorize citizens. He said he was confident the Council could achieve both texts. The Secretary-General has urged the Council to respond with a sense of urgency to address the country’s humanitarian crisis in areas such as the basic delivery of food, water, fuel and health supplies. The Council must respond with an elevated sense of responsibility and work with the requests made by the Haitian Government. He called on all States to participate in the Haiti Security Basket Fund created by Canada to support the Haitian population.
FERGAL TOMAS MYTHEN (Ireland), in expressing deep concern especially over the sexual and gender-based violence in Haiti, echoed the Secretary-General’s call to support the Haitian National Police. Ireland will remain actively engaged with Council members to create a sanctions regime aimed specifically at the gangs in Haiti which act with almost universal impunity, he stressed. He then spotlighted the deaths of rural families, urban communities under siege and Haitians in overpopulated prisons from catastrophic levels of conflict-induced hunger, lack of water, denial of medical care and cholera. These preventable tragedies, he noted, are the result of blockades, violence and the destruction of humanitarian aid, which collectively compound Haiti’s existing vulnerabilities from climate shocks and natural disasters. As such, Ireland strongly condemns the denial of and interference with life-saving humanitarian aid. Humanitarian workers must never be targets and access to vulnerable populations must be granted to prevent any further loss of life, he urged. Turning to the lack of progress on a negotiated political settlement, he called on all stakeholders to agree on a shared way forward. “There can be no security, no stability in Haiti without functioning institutions and without a sustainable, inclusive political solution, owned and led by the Haitian people,” he emphasized.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India), noting the lack of improvement in Haiti’s political and security situation, expressed concern over the political impasse compounded by economic stagnation, a troubling humanitarian situation, cholera outbreak and persistent gang-related violence. He underscored that India is closely monitoring the situation, and in particular, its citizens currently caught in the conflict zone. As sustainable security solutions must be Haitian-owned and led, capacity-building for the Haitian National Police must remain a priority, he said. He then recalled his country’s previous suggestion to increase the number of police and correction units. India is also working with Council members to address the issue of gang violence. No solutions to the political, socioeconomic and security crisis will emerge without the direct involvement and Haiti and its neighbours, he emphasized, while welcoming the engagement of regional partners such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on matters of immediate concern, including capacity-building initiatives for the National Police and ensuring control over the flow of small and light arms into Haiti. India stands ready to contribute again to capacity-building and training initiatives in Haiti, she pledged.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said that since the Council’s meeting on the situation in Haiti on 26 September, talks have not advanced on the political front, frustrating the expectation that an agreement between the main political groups was close to being announced. To make matters even worse, the current outbreak of cholera in Haiti, if not rapidly controlled, risks taking many more lives. The Council must act to help the Haitian Government regain control of the situation and avoid further escalation. During the negotiation of resolution 2645 (2022), which renewed BINUH`s mandate, a fruitful dialogue was established among Council members. The Council is close to agreeing on a new resolution to implement provisions foreseen in the resolution, particularly prohibiting the transfer of small arms, light weapons and ammunition to non-State actors in Haiti. It is also considering imposing measures, such as an asset freeze and a travel ban, against those engaging in or supporting gang violence. Brazil wants to ensure that such measures, if adopted, do not have adverse humanitarian consequences for civilians, he said. Developing appropriate listing criteria, conditions and mechanisms for lifting the sanctions, humanitarian exemptions and carve-outs are essential for the effectiveness of the new sanctions regime. In addition to security measures, socioeconomic progress in Haiti is key, and he repeated that Haiti could further benefit from participating in the Peacebuilding Commission.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), speaking also for Gabon and Ghana, reiterated the call for action supported and accepted by Haitian-led and owned political, humanitarian and security initiatives. Haiti’s Government, political class and civil society must deliver mediating starting points on a process to overcome the political impasse, address insecurity, recover the rule of law, deliver humanitarian aid and provide economic relief, he urged. Inclusive dialogue, with the strong participation of women and youth, must facilitate an agreed common approach to deliver constitutionally based political reforms and free and fair democratic elections at the minimum. The lack of an agreement, he cautioned, risks the security and humanitarian situation sliding out of control with dire costs to Haiti’s people and the most vulnerable. He encouraged the Haitian people to take advantage of the available instruments through regional organizations, welcomed CARICOM’s commitment and urged the African Union and African States to work with it.
Turning to the troubling surge in violence and impunity of armed gangs, he condemned all actors blocking the movement of food and fuel and impeding trade and humanitarian access. There must be urgent international support to counter gang violence and strengthen the capacity of the Haitian National Police. All efforts should be sensitive about the need to ensure trust and further the security and humanitarian well-being of Haiti’s people in a transparent manner, he emphasized. On illicit arms, he called on the international community to support authorities in implementing the national action plan in line with the CARICOM Roadmap on the Illicit Proliferation of Firearms and Ammunition. The international community must block the flow of weapons to gangs and associated parties and assist Haitian authorities in managing borders, tackling organized crime and the illegal trafficking in arms and illicit drugs and strengthening public revenue collection, he stressed. For its part, the Council must act against the gangs and their sponsors and facilitators, which requires setting up a clear process for investigation and reporting. He then expressed support to the proposed sanctions resolution and called for comprehensive justice sector reforms to resuscitate the criminal justice system, address prolonged pretrial detentions, establish legal aid offices and functioning court registries and expedite court cases. Efforts to address the political and security situation must be accompanied by a comprehensive social and economic re-engineering programme, he emphasized, while referencing the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said everything in the country is at a standstill, except for gang violence and lawlessness. “Gangs are now getting together and are dictating their terms to political actors. It’s a symptom of their power, but also a symptom of what is coming if the situation is not immediately and properly addressed and reversed,” he said, adding the situation will only get worse if some degree of security and rule of law is not immediately restored. “Haiti needs help; it needs it now and it should come in an order of priority,” he added. His delegation supports the two draft resolutions proposed by the United States and Mexico and favours sanctioning those responsible for strangling the country and its population. His delegation fully supports a strong and robust security mandate to give authorities and law enforcement bodies the necessary means to guarantee safe and adequate conditions of life. Yet solutions cannot only come from outside the country. The political class of Haiti needs to set aside their vested or other interests. Only this may help to bring back normalcy in order to tackle other major issues and create the basis for elections. The best way to show support for Haiti and its people is to act urgently and consider the Government’s request for support by a united Council, he said.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said she was appalled by the reported levels of violence, including widespread sexual and gender-based violence. In spotlighting the reports of children who were injured, killed or coerced to engage in gang activity, she called for the protection of Haiti’s population and children. Impunity for violations and abuses of human rights must end. She noted Haiti’s request for a “specialized armed force” to address the acute severity of the crisis and welcomed the discussions on supporting the Haitian National Police. Turning to the humanitarian situation and worrying resurgence of cholera, she urged swift action in stopping its spread while emphasizing the necessity to reach areas in need. Humanitarians must be allowed to have access and freedom of movement and their supplies must be respected, she emphasized. She then condemned the looting of the World Food Programme (WFP) warehouses. Civilians, she noted, should not have to bear the brunt of criminality. Political compromises must forge reconciliation and a path towards organizing elections, she stressed. While sanctions can address violence, they must include safeguards for due process. She suggested the Council look into existing processes such as the Office of the Ombudsperson.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) expressed deep concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation, with armed gangs blockading roads, and leading to a situation in which medical resources are unable to reach those in need, including those affected by the cholera outbreak. He called for the routes leading to hospitals to be cleared, and for the perpetrators of gang violence to be held to account, and for such actors to be denied from opportunities to cause further suffering. In this regard, he welcomed the draft resolution co-sponsored by Mexico and the United States on a targeted sanctions regime, which will make a positive contribution to the stability of Haiti. He went on to acknowledge the Haitian Government’s request for support and welcomed discussions by Council Members on the authorization of an assistance mission, adding that any such efforts must be led by Haitian needs, including to combat endemic violence, and must support an environment where free and fair elections can take place. He reaffirmed support to BINUH, which provides invaluable assistance and has a key role in creating space for stakeholders and in restoring stability and security for the Haitian people.
AMEIRAH OBAID MOHAMED OBAID ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates) strongly condemned the levels of extreme violence in Haiti, including homicides, abductions and child recruitment, as gangs continue to exercise control of neighbourhoods and critical infrastructure. She also condemned acts of sexual and gender-based violence to terrorize and control the population, stressing the need for an end to the violence. Against this backdrop, the United Arab Emirates welcomes the Government’s efforts to seek solutions to tackle the violence and insecurity and looks forward to discussing the options from the Secretary-General’s recent letter, as well as working with Council members, including on two draft resolutions by the penholders, to support the Haitian people at this critical juncture. She went on to condemn the obstruction of basic services and delivery of humanitarian aid, reiterating the need to ensure the safe, immediate, and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid. Stressing the importance of a Haitian-led, Haitian-owned political solution to the crisis, she called on all stakeholders to engage in good faith to arrive at a political settlement, expressing support for BINUH’s role in this regard.
GENG SHUANG (China), in noting that the levels of chaos, complexities and difficulties may exceed imagination, expressed concern over the worsening humanitarian situation, recent cholera outbreak and the Government’s inability and inaction as gang violence is inflicted on civilians with impunity. All Haitian political parties and factions must reach an agreement on the political architecture and transitional agreement to restore the constitutional order, he said. As such, BINUH must urge and promote the bridging of differences and deliver a road map for the political process. He then welcomed CARICOM’s expressed readiness to support Haiti. Turning to the necessity to address gang violence, he expressed support for targeted sanctions including travel bans, asset freezes and arms embargos, among others. The Council must prevent gang members from using potential loopholes to evade sanctions and must avoid a “skin-deep” implementation where sanctions are merely a formality with no real effect, he warned. On the Secretary-General’s proposal, he urged an in-depth review and advised caution. “At a time when the Haitian Government lacks legitimacy and is unable to govern, will sending such a rapid action force to Haiti receive the understanding, support and cooperation from parties in Haiti or will it face resistance or even trigger violent confrontation?” he asked. The international community should support the Haitian people in searching for a comprehensive, homegrown solution, he emphasized.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said that since the Council’s last meeting the situation in Haiti has gotten worse and the country’s fuel terminal and port are now under the control of criminal gangs, who prevent people from leaving the capital and impede their access to basic goods and services. Moreover, Haiti is now faced with an outbreak of cholera. There is no simple solution to this, he said, stressing that the stagnating political crisis is the root cause of the violence and it must be resolved. He called on all parties to set aside their differences and continue negotiations, using the humanitarian crisis as an incentive. A contributing factor to the crisis is that Haitians have not yet seen a full investigation into the murder last year of former President Jovenel Moïse. Many opposition groups do not want foreign intervention. There have been unsuccessful external interferences in the past, he said, asking that these opinions should be taken into account and all consequences of bringing in foreign contingents be weighed. He did not share the penholders’ position that unblocking the port infrastructure should be lumped together with introducing a sanctions regime. His delegation does not support the pushing through of a resolution on sanctions. Any Council sanctions are serious and require detailed analysis that looks at their long-term effectiveness, he said. He supported measures meant to restore Government control and not punish the entire country and its citizens.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) expressed concern about the situation in Haiti, which is deteriorating on all fronts, including with the outbreak of cholera, amid which humanitarian aid cannot be freely delivered. France therefore took solemn note of the letter from the Haitian Prime Minister on 6 October and calls on the international community to redouble efforts to come to the aid of the people of Haiti. Echoing the Secretary-General’s observation made in his letter on 9 October that the health and security situation calls for a robust response, she said the goal must be to furnish more efficient support to the police, who are on the frontlines, facing gangs. She went on to express support for sanctions to exert pressure on criminal groups, and those who support them, and hoped the Council will soon conclude work in this regard. She urged all political players to resume dialogue, and get out of the present impasse, and for support to be lent to holding democratic elections when security conditions permit. The blockade of Varreux terminal is unacceptable as it jeopardizes the movement of humanitarian aid, including to fight the cholera outbreak. France is ready to do more to support the needs of the Haitian people and will work with Mexico and the United States to this end.
JEAN VICTOR GENEUS, Minister for Foreign Affairs Haiti, in speaking on behalf of the 4 million children who could not go to school because of gang violence, women and girls who have been raped and the innocent people who have been murdered, renewed his country’s distress call. The Haitian people are not living but rather surviving, he said, while welcoming the draft resolutions of the United States and Mexico. He then appealed for active solidarity in tackling the challenge and scourge of gang violence. In response to the cessation of $400 million in Government fuel subsidies, armed gangs have occupied oil terminals, caused fuel shortages, facilitated looting and targeted acts of aggression including against Government officials and hindered the transition process, he noted. As such, hospitals have either closed or significantly reduced their activities, drinking water has stopped, public transport has diminished, and foodstuffs supplies for the capital and provincial towns have been severely constrained.
The Haitian people are waiting with impatience to return to normalcy and security, he stressed. Haiti must have robust support for its Haitian National Police to address the humanitarian crisis, neutralize armed gangs, guarantee the free distribution of fuel and facilitate the resumption of activities. He then spotlighted the ongoing efforts of his Government, civil society, private sector and BINUH in facilitating a national dialogue and reiterated Haiti’s commitment to a political agreement which re-establishes democratic institutions and organizes general elections.
ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ GIL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, said it is reasonable to expect that the Council will respond favourably to repeated requests for action, particularly to requests made by the Haitian authorities for urgent assistance to curb the excesses, abuses and crimes committed by armed gangs. These crimes seriously affect the Haitian people’s welfare, depriving them of access to food and basic health services. The Dominican Republic has acted accordingly to the Haitian Prime Minister’s request for assistance. He said he strongly supports Council approval of a regime of sanctions and an arms embargo against individuals and institutions, as the Dominican Republic has already done. A cholera outbreak could mean the loss of thousands of additional lives. The Haitian authorities and the Haitian people are waiting for an effective response to offer hope of relief from the catastrophic consequences they are now experiencing, he noted.
An inclusive political process, led by the Haitians themselves, must accompany efforts to achieve peace, he said. That will help create the necessary national unity to address the protracted crisis’ root causes. “However, we are at a turning point, the priority of which is to bring peace and to deliver as much humanitarian aid as possible to alleviate the suffering of the Haitian people,” he said. To deal with the alarming health situation, the Dominican Republic Government is conducting health programmes and active epidemiological surveillance at the borders, along with other measures, to protect its citizens from the health threat. The unprecedented humanitarian and security crisis in Haiti must be addressed with the urgency the case deserves. “There is no time to lose. We appeal once again to the Security Council to use all the resources and means at its disposal to reverse the course of this situation and to effectively prevent it from spreading beyond the borders of our neighbouring country,” he said.
CARLOS FULLER (Belize), speaking on behalf of CARICOM, said he is extremely concerned about the situation in Haiti. There can be no lasting stability without a long-term strategy for sustainable development that strengthens the country’s institutions and its economy. He firmly condemned the incessant warfare and actions of the gangs that have essentially paralyzed the country and emphasized the critical need to strengthen the Haitian National Police’s capacity to fully restore security and the rule of law. Noting Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s call for short-term assistance to address the security and humanitarian crises, CARICOM officials are carrying out internal consultations to determine the best response. Strengthening the State’s security apparatus must also include measures to combat corruption and illicit weapons flows, he said, adding that the amalgamation of these scourges directly threatens the Haitian people and can dangerously destabilize neighbouring States.
All national stakeholders must urgently engage in meaningful and constructive political dialogue, guided by a spirit of compromise, he said. Personal and partisan interests must be set aside to bridge the existing political chasm, build confidence and enable the political process. “The Haitian people cannot go it alone. They require meaningful support from various regional, hemispheric and international partners to assist in implementing the way forward,” he said. CARICOM, of which Haiti is a valued member, has offered its instruments and tools. It is well placed to provide support for the electoral process and a “good offices” role in dialogue with national stakeholders. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the Organization of American States and the African Union can also help in this way. All efforts to tackle the seemingly insurmountable challenges must be Haitian-led and Haitian-owned. An inclusive inter-Haitian dialogue, with the full participation of women and youth, is critical. It must be accompanied by a national reconciliation process, he said.
IFIGENEIA KONTOLEONTOS, Permanent Observer for the International Organization of la Francophonie, said her organization has always shown support to Haiti, politically and through technical support to institutions. She noted that the organization’s Secretary General, Louise Mushikiwabo, has kept abreast of the situation in the country, and has in recent months sent two missions to explore ways to bring about a peaceful solution to the country’s difficulties, as well as undertaken consultations to work towards a concerted dynamic around the issue of inter-Haitian dialogue. Outlining other efforts by the organization, including mobilizing cooperation around programmes in support of education, democracy consolidation, and capacity-building in areas such as elections and the rule of law, she spotlighted a joint initiative with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) since last year to strengthen the capacities of women candidates for political leadership.
Expressing concern about the deteriorating human security situation and the activities of gang members who stoke violence and overpower the State’s ability to assume its sovereign functions with respect to domestic security, she stressed the urgent need to break the vicious cycle of poverty and insecurity, which feed one another. Further, the erosion of the country’s economic viability and political legitimacy deprives the State of the power to act effectively against the proliferation and use of small arms and light weapons and of countries, including by non-State actors, she said, underscoring the need to end the political impasse and to restore security in the country. The organization supports current initiatives to sanction the heads of gangs and their backers and will continue with its advocacy so that combating gangs is the first priority, even before organizing elections.
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