Haiti to seek foreign military intervention amid crises, officials say – The Washington Post

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The government of embattled Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry plans to request the intervention of foreign security forces to help shore up basic services as cascading and compounding crises plunge the beleaguered nation deeper into chaos, two Haitian officials told The Washington Post.
The government is struggling to secure a semblance of order in the Caribbean nation of 11 million. Gangs control a major port and have stifled the flow of oil and other essential goods, hospitals are short on supplies, violence and kidnapping remain rampant; anti-government protests sparked by a plan to cut fuel subsidies have filled the streets for weeks; access to potable water is under strain and cholera cases have sparked fears of a new outbreak.
The government intends to ask “international partners” for “a specialized armed force” to shore up basic services, according to a resolution signed Thursday by a council of top ministers that was sent to The Post by Jean-Junior Joseph, a communications adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Henry. The resolution authorizes the prime minister to ask for such assistance.
Cholera resurfaces in Haiti as gangs hinder access to water, hospitals
The goal is to “achieve a secure climate that should make it possible to fight cholera effectively, promote the resumption of the distribution of fuel and drinking water across the country, the functioning of hospitals, the restarting of economic activities, the free movement of people and goods, and the reopening of schools,” the resolution reads.
Joseph did not describe which partners would be asked or the type of forces to be requested.
A State Department spokesman told reporters on Friday that U.N. officials in Haiti have called for a humanitarian corridor to facilitate the distribution of fuel throughout the country and that the Biden administration, in consultation with Henry and U.S. partners, is considering the request. He declined to say whether those discussions entailed a potential military deployment. He did not say how the request would interact with any request from the Haitian government. The U.S. Defense Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Steep fuel price hikes spark violent protests in Haiti
Foreign military intervention is a fraught topic in Haiti, met with deep skepticism: The country has a long history of destabilizing foreign interventions.
“We are not requesting for an occupying force,” Bocchit Edmond, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, told The Post. “We’re just requesting national assistance as a member of the international community who is facing such a tough time.”
“That’s why we have international organizations like U.N., like [the Organization of American States]. It’s to come to the rescue of the members states when there is an issue,” he said. “The situation, if we leave it that way, that can lead us to human catastrophe.”
Béatrice Nibogora, a spokeswoman for the United Nations in Haiti, said the U.N. had not received a request from the government as of Friday.
A foreign government official with knowledge of a meeting on Haiti Thursday at the OAS General Assembly in Lima, Peru, said Haitian officials made no request then. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro tweeted in French on Thursday that Haiti “must request urgent assistance from the international community to help resolve security crises, determine the characteristics of an international security force.”
Conditions in Haiti have grown increasingly dire in recent weeks, as the cabinet resolution released Friday indicates.
The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince said Friday that the State Department has authorized U.S. personnel and their families to leave the country immediately.
Looters last month stormed a warehouse in the city of Gonaïves, stealing enough food to feed 100,000 schoolchildren through the end of the year, the World Food Program said. As the government seeks aid abroad, its support at home is eroding swiftly: Critics accuse Henry of delaying new elections, and protesters, enraged by his announcement that the government could no longer afford fuel subsidies, and by the general chaos and lack of access to necessities, are calling for him to step down.
Amanda Coletta contributed to this report.


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