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Haiti's Crises at New Levels of Desperation, Top Officials Warn Security Council, Urging Critical Assistance for National Law Enforcement, Humanitarian Aid – Haiti – ReliefWeb

Haiti
SC/15037
26 SEPTEMBER 2022
9136TH MEETING (PM)
Country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Says Situation Calm in Many Regions, But Police Force Needs Robust International Support Fighting Armed Groups
Support for national law enforcement and financing for humanitarian aid are urgently needed to address three converging crises in Haiti that have resulted in a desperate, deteriorating situation, senior United Nations officials told the Security Council today in the wake of large-scale unrest in the country following the Government’s recent decision to cease subsidizing fuel.
Helen La Lime, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), told the Council that three crises have intersected in Haiti in recent weeks. A gang crisis has driven more than 20,000 people from their homes, an economic crisis has led to soaring food prices and a black market for fuel and — as these trials play out — political stakeholders struggle to find common ground and define a path towards elections. On 18 September, one of the largest alliances of criminal gangs in Port-au-Prince blocked the Varreux fuel terminal, and the continuing state of siege has cut the capital off from its primary source of fuel.
Yet, despite these challenges, national stakeholders have re-engaged, the new customs administration is beginning to operate, and the Haitian National Police have worked hard to restore some semblance of freedom of movement for the population, she said. However, neighbourhoods remain unpoliced and the situation at the Varreux fuel terminal “threatens to highlight the very real limits of the national force”. Urging more support to the basket fund for the Haitian National Police, she called on the Council to take urgent action to support Haitians in their efforts towards a better future.
Valerie Guarnieri, Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), noting that the situation in Haiti has reached new levels of desperation, pointed out that protestors have looted $6 million of relief supplies that could have benefitted 410,000 people in need. While WFP will stay and deliver, it will not be able to help everyone due to lawlessness. Calling for additional support from Member States, she emphasized that operating in Haiti will come at a sharp increase in cost from a Humanitarian Response Plan that is only 22 per cent funded. “Haiti needs help now,” she emphasized.
Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), then pointed out that Haiti’s 1,500 kilometres of coastline and its long land border with the Dominican Republic makes it particularly vulnerable to illicit trafficking. Detailing UNODC’s work, including its efforts to address transborder challenges with regional actors, she stressed that investments in Haiti’s security sector must be complemented with similar efforts throughout the entire national criminal justice system. Further, a better understanding of trafficking flows in Haiti is needed, as this would facilitate the design of tailored criminal justice and border-management responses.
In the ensuing debate, Council members expressed concern over persistent insecurity in Haiti, condemning attacks on humanitarian assets and underlining the need to build capacity in the country’s security sector. Many also called for tangible measures to break the political deadlock and enable the holding of national elections. While members also welcomed efforts by BINUH and UNODC to address the situation, some stressed that the international community must learn from its past mistakes and support Haiti without interfering in its internal affairs.
On that point, China’s representative urged the parties to conduct political consultations and establish national institutions that represent the interests of the Haitian people. For its part, the Council must translate the readiness it expressed in resolution 2645 (2022) to impose targeted sanctions on those supporting gang violence into action. He expressed hope that the United States and Mexico will soon submit a draft resolution to this end, which should also expressly prohibit the transfer of certain weapons to non-State actors and support Government port-management and customs reform.
The representative of Mexico said that his delegation is working closely with that of the United States to provide a possible solution to the crisis. Collective, coordinated Council action is necessary to avoid Haiti’s collapse, he emphasized, encouraging members to support the future draft resolution. He also underscored the need for the international community to provide the Haitian National Police with equipment, technology and training.
To that end, the representative of the United States said that his country will support the Haitian National Police by procuring more equipment, including protective gear and new vehicles. Also, having provided $80 million in assistance, it is about to vet the first 100 candidates of the Special Weapons and Tactics training programme. Calling on the Council to act, he also highlighted the draft resolution his delegation is working with Mexico, adding it will be circulated soon.
Kenya’s delegate, also speaking for Gabon and Ghana, stressed that, while more resources are welcome, Haiti’s history shows that foreign intervention has been profoundly damaging. Therefore, any Council action must take past failures into account and be accompanied by transparency and respect, rooted in frameworks led and designed by Haitians. Calling Haiti the “sixth region of the African Union”, he pointed out that Africa has the experience and know-how — along with the political and cultural sensitivity — to be a trusted partner, inviting the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to collaborate with the African Union to help a country populated by Africa’s diaspora.
Jean Victor Geneus, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Haiti, then told the Council that that decision to cease providing subsidies was a difficult but imperative one, as the State was losing a total of $400 million a year. Commending the Haitian National Police, who were able to limit damage in the face of better-equipped gangs, he said that the situation is under control and calm in many regions of the country. However, given the worsening insecurity, robust international support is needed to support the Haitian National Police in fighting armed groups. Welcoming announced contributions to this end, he also supported the decision by some countries to consider imposing sanctions on those fomenting insecurity in Haiti. “Our current priority is [a] return to constitutional order by re-establishing security and political dialogue,” he stressed.
Roberto Álvarez Gil, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, offering the perspective of Haiti’s neighbour, underscored that a lasting, sustainable response to the ongoing crisis must come from the Haitian people. However, international cooperation is vital to ensure stability and peace in the country and the wider region, he said, also highlighting his country’s “usual spirit” of cooperation and friendship with the Haitian State and people.
Also speaking were representatives of India, Albania, Ireland, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Brazil, Russian Federation, France and Canada.
The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 4:57 p.m.
Briefings
HELEN LA LIME, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), told the Council that, over the past several weeks, three crises have intersected “in altogether new and frightening ways” in Haiti. A gang crisis has driven more than 20,000 people from their homes; an economic crisis has led to soaring food prices and fuel often only available on the black market; and — as these trials play out — political stakeholders struggle to find common ground and define a path to elections. Providing an overview of developments since 11 September, she noted that one of the largest alliances of criminal gangs in Port-au-Prince blocked the Varreux fuel terminal on 18 September. That state of siege has remained in place for over a week — despite concerted police operations in recent days — and has cut the capital off from its primary source of fuel, creating shortages across the country and closing down hospitals.
Detailing BINUH’s work to encourage dialogue in all sectors of Haitian society, she said that — while so-far inconclusive efforts have led to a perceived stalemate — national stakeholders have begun to re-engage with renewed urgency. Government representatives, political groups and civil society organizations have launched new consultations on forging consensus towards elections, and private sector leaders are pledging to meet their respective fiscal and legal responsibilities. Sustained increases in revenues will be the clearest sign that the commitment is being met by all sides, she noted. Despite efforts to undermine reform, the new customs administration is beginning to operate, and in addition to recent seizures, customs import collections have increased fivefold between July and August. Further, while the current unrest has placed major focus on the Haitian National Police, their hard work to remove roadblocks and restore some semblance of freedom of movement for the population has elicited a degree of trust in their capabilities.
However, she pointed out that neighbourhoods remain unpoliced and that the situation at the Varreux fuel terminal “threatens to highlight the very real limits of the national force”. Urging more support for the basket fund to support the Haitian National Police, she underlined the need for investment in institutions, infrastructure and human capital. The United Nations system in Haiti estimates that at least 1.5 million people have been directly impacted by recent gang violence, with gender-based violence — particularly rape — being used systematically. This generalized insecurity has also severely curtailed humanitarian access. Basic rights such as freedom of movement and education are being “catastrophically undermined”, she added, also noting that access to basic social and health services has been repeatedly cut. While a Haitian-led political solution is the first, necessary step to address the current crisis, the Council must take urgent action to support Haitians in their effort towards a better future.
VALERIE GUARNIERI, Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said that during her visit to Haiti several months ago, she was struck by the rising needs and difficulties in moving goods in an out of the capital. Reporting that one in two Haitians face food insecurity, she noted that there had been rays of hope, including the launching of school meals that fed 350,000 children. Further, tens of thousands of people were working on food production and clearing and draining canals that caused flooding during the cyclone season. She also said that, with support from the World Bank, WFP was helping the Government to develop a national social protection policy, with plans for the Government to take over provision of cash transfers by 2024. Emergency food assistance was reaching 450,000 people countrywide.
However, the situation in Haiti has reached new levels of desperation, she continued. In less than one year, the price of the basic food basket has soared 52 per cent, the cost of petrol has doubled and inflation is at 31 per cent. The diesel needed to run power supplies can no longer enter through the port, and water supplies are desperately low. She noted that the school feeding programme was on hold as it is not safe for children to attend school. The economic and political hub of Port-au-Prince is effectively cut off from the rest of the country as gangs have a stranglehold on the main arteries in and out of the capital city. Further, food insecurity is expected to deteriorate with 4.5 million people expected to face crisis and 1.3 million in emergency circumstances.
Gangs are blocking fuel supplies, as well as ports, airports and road access, while protesters have looted humanitarian warehouses, she said, noting that WFP lost one third of its food stocks in a week intended for the vulnerable, with two of four warehouses pillaged of over 2,000 metric tons of food. Other United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations have been targeted, as well. She estimated that over $6 million of relief supplies, which could have benefited 410,000 people in need, were lost. Despite the difficult conditions, she stressed WFP will stay and deliver, and has already started supporting people over the weekend — albeit at a limited scale. However, it is not in a position to help everyone due to lawlessness, she said, calling for further support from Member States. “We’re doing our part,” she stressed, citing a breakthrough achieved in Cité Soleil, but expressed concern that the situation will worsen, food will run out, and an active hurricane season will spell disaster for Haiti.
The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service was evacuating hundreds of staff from tricky situations in the field, she reported. However, operating in Haiti will come at a sharp increase in cost, as WFP and partners have no choice but to beef up security, secure food stocks, rebuild at least one warehouse and enhance logistics capabilities. The Haiti operation is chronically underfunded, she pointed out, spotlighting that the humanitarian response plan is only 22 per cent funded. Stressing the severity of the violence, the depth of need and the risk to the population and humanitarian actors, she called for Council and Member State support. “Haiti needs help now,” she emphasized.
GHADA FATHI WALY, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) said that Haiti’s 1,500 kilometres of coastline and its land border of 360 kilometres with the Dominican Republic makes it particularly vulnerable to the illicit traffic in commodities, particularly drugs, firearms and ammunition. Regional cooperation was crucial to curb the recent uptick in violence and its transborder impact, particularly with the Dominican Republic. UNODC is working with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and its specialized agency for security and crime impacts to implement a road map for the Caribbean to combat the illicit traffic of firearms. In March, a UNODC multidisciplinary team carried out an evaluation mission to Haiti, in close cooperation with BINUH, to build capacity and improve technology to make borders, ports and airports more secure, combat the illicit traffic of goods and organized crime, reduce the proliferation of illicit firearms and tend to the need to stem endemic corruption.
The Government of Haiti directly conferred upon UNODC the job of supporting border management through an earmarked financial contribution, she continued. As part of that programme, UNODC is working to map out transnational criminal activities in Haiti and their regional impact. On the operational level, UNODC is supporting capacity-building of Haitian authorities to inspect containers at strategic points, such as Port-au-Prince and Port Lafiteau, in cooperation with Dominican authorities. This assistance also includes supervising freight cargo and the transport of passengers, among others, she said, noting that those efforts should ensure that customs revenue are effectively centred to activities that support border mobilization and border management. Achieving those aims requires access to ports and commitment and engagement with port authorities and private companies. UNODC will remain in the country, as long as security conditions allow, and is ready to take robust measures.
Along with those efforts, UNODC is also cooperating with BINUH and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as part of a special joint programme to support the national police in priority actions, she said. Investments in and efforts made in the security sector must be accompanied by similar efforts throughout the entire criminal justice system. Haiti needs a competent police force, solid investigations, effective prosecutors and independent judicial system, so that it can function properly. Criminal organizations must be brought to justice and impunity must come to an end. In that regard, UNODC is cooperating with UNDP and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with support of the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, to support combating corruption. A better understanding of trafficking flows in Haiti with a focus on firearm and drugs is needed. This would help provide insights to design tailored criminal justice and border management responses. In addition, UNODC is planning activities in those areas including mitigating corruption risks in border management and ensuring the availability of technical expertise to track illicit financial flows with support of BINUH, United Nations sister agencies and other relevant organizations, such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the Organization of American States (OAS).
Statements
GENG SHUANG (China) pointed out that the situation in Haiti “went from bad to worse” as the Government abruptly abolished fuel subsidies and gangs seized this opportunity to transform civilians protests into large-scale riots. Journalists were killed, women were raped, civilians were burned to death, businesses were forced to close and WFP warehouses were looted, he reported, adding: “Haiti, as a whole, has been plunged into anarchy.” The Council expressed its readiness in resolution 2645 (2022) to take appropriate measures, including imposing asset freezes or travel-ban measures on those engaged in or supporting gang violence. Given the current situation, the organ must translate that readiness into action. He expressed hope that the United States and Mexico will submit a draft resolution and convene consultations as soon as possible, also calling on BINUH to submit a list of gangs and their leaders for the Council to consider. Such a draft should turn voluntary measures to limit the transfer of small arms and light weapons to the country into mandatory measures as far as non-State actors are concerned, and should also provide Council support for Government port-management and customs reform. The political stalemate in Haiti has been ongoing for years. Constitutional order must be restored. To that end, he urged the parties to urgently conduct political consultations and establish national institutions that represent the interests of the Haitian people. The United Nations must play an active role in this regard, he added, but — spotlighting negative public opinion about the Organization in Haiti — called on BINUH to work to eliminate misunderstanding and win the trust and support of the Haitian people.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) stressed that his country would continue to stand with its neighbour Haiti, and called on the world to do the same. While recognizing the right of the Haitian people to protest, he condemned the violence, looting and destruction, expressing dismay over the 15 September looting of a warehouse, and a United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) facility. Further, with criminal gangs killing and kidnapping, there has been a significant deterioration of the status and effectiveness of the judiciary, leading to widespread impunity. Citing troubling reports of sexual assault against women and girls, and arming minors for combat, he stressed the importance of supporting the Haitian National Police to counter the gangs, alongside community-based efforts to deter recruitment. To that end, the United States will procure more equipment including protective gear and new vehicles. Also, having provided $80 million in assistance, it is also about to vet the first 100 candidates of the Special Weapons and Tactics training programme. The international community must turn the tide of Haiti’s security situation before it is too late, a basic need for any political, economic and humanitarian progress. Calling on the Council to act, he noted his delegation is working with Mexico to build on resolution 2645 (2022) with a new draft resolution to address the many challenges. He expects to circulate the draft in the coming days. Member States have a duty to redouble efforts to help Haiti and send a message to those undermining the country: “You will not succeed.”
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) called on the Council and the international community to urgently adopt more effect measures to tackle the crisis in Haiti. He condemned the recent looting of the WFP warehouses and spotlighted the deteriorating situation around human rights, particularly those of children who were being prevented from receiving an education and access to health care. He also condemned their recruitment for criminal activities. Turning to the Haitian National Police, he underscored the need for effective support from the international community in providing equipment, technology and training, as well as developing an effective programme to tackle organized crime and gangs. In this regard, he said that he looked forward to the Secretary-General’s report regarding possible options to support the National Police operating more efficiently, as well as information about the steps the Haiti Government has taken regarding the political and electoral process. He reiterated that Mexico is working closely with the United States delegation to provide a possible solution to the crisis. Collective and coordinated action of the Council is necessary to avoid the collapse of Haiti, he pointed out, encouraging the Member States to support the future draft resolution.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India), noting that Haitian political stakeholders had not been able to reach any agreement on the transition, restoration of functioning institutions or the holding of elections, observed that the persisting gang‑related violence and kidnappings further contributed to that country’s insecurity. She underscored that India is closely monitoring the situation, and in particular, its citizens currently caught in the conflict zone. Capacity-building for the Haitian National Police must remain a priority. As a part of the Mission’s renewed mandate, India joined forces with other countries, including Council Member States from the region, to increase police and correction units to 42 civilian and seconded personnel. However, no solutions to the political, socioeconomic and security crises will emerge without the direct involvement of Haiti and its neighbours. She therefore welcomed the engagement of regional partners, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Canada and the Dominican Republic, 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. She expressed support for the pursuit of peace, recalling India’s contribution to capacity-building and training initiatives for Haiti in the past.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the main priority is to rein over the gangs that are hampering the delivery of scarce basic goods by controlling transport routes, stressing that they are suffocating the country and holding people hostage. Echoing other speakers, he highlighted the need to restore order and stability in order to stop the “spiralling down of the entire country into total lawlessness”. Endemic corruption, smuggling and trafficking need to be addressed urgently “not only with words, but with muscle”. Haiti is on the brink of ruin and that prospect is further exacerbated by what looks to be a detached political class, he said, calling for an urgent and unified national response. “One has the impression that the people of Haiti and their political establishment are two separate entities,” he observed, underscoring that such behaviour undermines the people’s trust in State institutions and lead to tensions and violence. Further, the rising cost of living and insecurity force people to take to the streets. Stressing that the use of violence is never the answer, he called on State authorities to heed the demands of protesters and seek to address the root causes of the problems they raise. Free, fair and inclusive elections with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women is crucial to allow Haitians to express their will.
MARTIN GALLAGHER (Ireland) stressed that the economic collapse of Haiti, exacerbated by the surging food priced and lack of fuel, is being exploited by gangs, which are proliferating unchecked. They use displacement, brutal sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and sexual slavery, to control the people. Condemning in strongest terms the assassination of two journalists on 11 September, he welcomed the efforts of UNODC to curtail the spread of weapons. Emphasizing that journalists in Haiti must be free to perform their work in safety, he said that those responsible for the heinous crimes must be held accountable. Condemning the threats, intimidation and direct attacks that target humanitarian actors in the country, he also spotlighted the recent looting and burning of the warehouse in Gonaïves. Recognizing the essential role of the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service in Haiti which is accessing communities in need and relocating humanitarian workers under threat, he called for its immediate support. Stability in the country could only be regained through participative dialogue and a political response, led and owned by all Haitians, he emphasized.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), also speaking for Gabon and Ghana, expressed concern over the rapidly deteriorating situation in Haiti. Solutions tabled during the last Council meeting on the issue, however, paled in comparison to the scale of the crisis. While a better resourced BINUH is welcome, it is clear more is needed. He pointed out that, historically, Haiti’s experience of interventions by the international community and external actors has been profoundly damaging. Thus, any Council action must take past failures into account and be accompanied by transparency and respect, rooted in Haitian-led and -designed frameworks. African delegations are committed to becoming more involved politically and technically, he said, inviting CARICOM to collaborate with the African Union in order to help a country populated by Africa’s diaspora. Calling Haiti the “sixth region of the African Union”, he noted that countries in Africa have mediated complex conflict situations, recovered from failed States and faced negative armed groups of different kinds in urban and rural environments. The continent has the experience and know-how, along with the political and cultural sensitivity to be a trusted partner.
The immediate focus should be to offer the Haitian National Police sufficient training and equipment to effectively challenge armed gangs, he continued, adding that such training should be undertaken by countries with relevant experience who can relate well to Haitian counterparts. However, a stronger police force will only succeed if its work is in concert with a stronger judiciary with comprehensive criminal-justice-sector reforms, functioning court registries and elimination of prolonged pre-trial detentions. He called for urgent investment in training the public service, with grants from bilateral and multilateral partners. Stressing that, as long as Haitians are food insecure, there will be a serious “hope” deficit, he urged the international community to provide immediate relief and aid, coupled with efforts to increase agricultural productivity. Citing the milestone lessons of the African Union/African Vaccine Acquisition Trust — which created the largest buyer market for vaccines for the African Union and Caribbean — he affirmed the same approach can be used for acquiring grains and fertilizers. Africa is inspired by the Haitian revolution, he stressed, and its people continue to suffer the consequences of their rejection of oppression and exploitation. “It is time now for Africa to go beyond appreciation of that glorious history to practical solidarity in responding to the challenges that Haiti faces,” with humility, given its own challenges, but also confidence, he said.
ALICE JACOBS (United Kingdom) expressed concern about the continued deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Haiti. Standing economic, security and sociopolitical crises, along with the current escalation, have exacerbated the food insecurity and the humanitarian situation in the country continues to deteriorate. She condemned the looting of the WFP office and the warehouse in Gonaives, emphasizing that this “egregious act” has prevented assistance from reaching thousands of Haiti’s most vulnerable. She further encouraged all actors to work constructively to find urgent solutions, support recovery and progress and resolve the political gridlock. Political dialogue is necessary to creating a secure environment to hold free and fair elections. Reiterating his support for the mission, she emphasized: “BINUH is fundamental in supporting Haiti to resolve these multifaceted challenges.” To that end, by strengthening the Haitian National Police and facilitating dialogue between Haitian political stakeholders, BINUH’s efforts are helping lay the groundwork for stability in Haiti. She welcomed the draft resolution being proposed by the United States and Mexico and expressed her delegation’s readiness to discuss it with partners in order to bring Haiti closer to security stability.
AMIERA ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates) expressed concern over the unrest erupting across Haiti and condemned the acts of violence that was unravelling the social fabric of Haitian communities and undermining efforts to achieve sustainable peace. Further, the looting of humanitarian warehouses is unacceptable, as such actions impede the delivery of the urgent humanitarian aid that is a lifeline for the most vulnerable. The deteriorating situation in Haiti also highlights the need to build the capacity of the country’s security sector, which will strengthen the response to complex challenges, such as escalating gang violence and the illegal flow of weapons. Looking forward to a draft resolution that addresses these issues, she also said that UNODC will be essential in this regard. She added that, as the Council continues to follow the situation, the Secretary-General’s upcoming reports and the Government’s updates on developments related to the political settlement will be essential to guiding the organ’s discussions on Haiti in October.
MONA JUUL (Norway) expressed concern over Haiti’s political instability, increasing sexual and gender-based violence and social unrest. She urged all the stakeholders to protect the population from human rights abuses and underscored the importance of de-escalation and non-use of violence. The lack of protection and limited access to humanitarian assistance will only further fuel violence in the country, she added. In addition, tackling sexual and gender-based violence and responding to the needs of survivors, including by providing access to sexual and reproductive health services, was crucial. Highlighting the need for collective action in finding a solution to the crisis, she called on the political leadership and opposition to recognize the severity of the situation and make compromises. She also drew attention to the upcoming report of the Haiti Government on its political reconciliation and election efforts, due by 17 October, underscoring that the solution to the crisis must be inclusive and Haitian-led. As well, the upcoming report with recommendations of the Secretary-General and the BINUH report will be important milestones for discussing concrete solutions to the crisis in October.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said the renewal and reinforcement BINUH in July, during Brazil’s presidency of the Council, was an important step in strengthening the Organization’s support to Haiti. Nonetheless, the Council must continuously follow new developments on the ground in order to consider the need for new measures. “It is high time we started in-depth discussions on the provisions foreseen in resolution 2645 (2022), particularly on prohibiting the transfer of small arms, light weapons and ammunition to non‑State actors in Haiti and on the possibility of imposing appropriate measures,” he stressed. However, if adopted, those measures, including asset freeze and travel ban against those engaging in or supporting gang violence, must not lead to adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian population, especially given the traumatic history of comprehensive sanctions imposed on Haiti in past decades. Parameters, such as listing criteria, conditions for lifting the sanctions, humanitarian exemptions and carve-outs are essential for applying those measures in a responsible and effective manner. His country is ready to cooperate with other partners in providing additional support to the Haitian Government and people. This week, it is depositing $650,000 in the fund created for the reconstruction of the southern peninsula of Haiti, severely hit by an earthquake in 2021, he said, voicing hope that other donor countries will also join that initiative.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said that, while news of the situation stabilizing in Port-au-Prince is cause for hope, all accounts suggest that Haiti is “one step away from disaster”. Real gang warfare pervades, and for civilians, “fear for one’s life has now become the norm”, he pointed out. Recent protests are the logical outcome of this situation, following the Government’s decision to stop fuel subsidies. Public disappointment and loss of trust in the authorities is clear. Despite the Russian Federation’s repeated calls for broad, political dialogue and the launch of electoral and reform processes, no consistent, targeted steps have been taken to return Haiti to a constitutional path of development. Expressing disappointment that external players with real leverage over Port-au-Prince are not assisting in this crisis, he stressed that calls to stand with Haiti are insufficient. For some six years, there have been no elections in Haiti, and further, far smaller problems in the region have resulted in great concern from some Council members. Such members should be honest and “call a spade a spade” or admit that they are guided by double standards regarding various countries on the Council’s agenda. The international community must learn from its mistakes, identify Haiti’s real needs and then support those efforts without interfering in domestic affairs. Adding that the Russian Federation is prepared to consider targeted sanctions against leaders of criminal groups, he nevertheless pointed out that their actual impact on the situation should be considered as the extent to which such individuals use foreign bank accounts or go on trips abroad is unclear.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France), Council President for September, speaking in her national capacity, called on the Haitian authorities to react to the crisis and the international community to mobilize further. Closely monitoring the implementation of resolution 2645 (2022), she urged all Haitian political stakeholders to find an agreement leading to the organization of democratic elections when security conditions are met. The political class must show responsibility to renew dialogue and break the current stalemate. Criminal groups are increasing abuses with impunity, undermining the authority of the State and pillaging its resources. However, everyone knows that, without security, there will be neither rule of law nor development. France is working to strengthen the Haitian National Police, including through BINUH, and is ready to exert more pressure on those who fuel the spiral of violence. Citing the violence, she asked how the international community can hope for the stabilization of a country where nearly half of the population suffers from hunger. There is an urgent need to strengthen humanitarian support, and in particular, food aid for the most vulnerable. As well, access to the poor neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince and the provinces must be ensured. Condemning the unacceptable looting of humanitarian stocks, she called on the Haitian authorities to strengthen the governance and accountability of its institutions, particularly in the fight against corruption.
JEAN VICTOR GENEUS, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Haiti, said that the decision to cease providing subsidies was a difficult one but imperative because the State was losing a total of $400 million a year. However, major reform of the General Customs Administration to combat smuggling, increase customs revenue and halt the entry of weapons and ammunitions resulted in the Administration collecting 800 billion Haitian gourdes — a 40 per cent increase over past times. Nonetheless, political and private troublemakers implemented their plan to sow chaos in the country, using heavily armed gangs to paralyse all regions of the country. Detailing those activities, among others, the looting and burning the warehouses of WFP, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Caritas Internationalis, he added that, over 20 schools have also been ransacked and pillaged in the region of Artibonite. However, with the exception of a few isolated cases, the situation overall is under control and calm in many regions of the country, he reported, commending the Haitian National Police who were able to regain control of the situation and limit damage in the face of better armed and better equipped gangs.
Nonetheless, he noted that violent demonstrations and difficulties encountered in delivering and supplying fuel to the country because of the roadblocks set up by armed gangs at the Varreux oil terminal are further complicating the country’s already precarious economic situation. As a result, some private businesses are threatening to pack up and leave, including the industrial park Caracol, which just announced the end of its operations yesterday, due to lack of fuel. This could lead to the loss of 12,000 jobs. In addition, a number of hospitals have also closed due to lack of fuel, and the reopening of schools, already postponed to 3 October, is still uncertain. Given the worsening insecurity, robust support from the international community is needed to support the Haitian National Police in fighting the armed groups. To that end, he thanked those who initiated the meeting organized on 23 September on the basket fund, as well as those States that have announced contributions to support the work of the Haitian National Police. He also welcomed the decision by some countries to consider imposing sanctions upon those who were participating in criminal activities and insecurity in the country, adding that it was a real step in the right direction to bring an end to insecurity in the country. “Our current priority is return to constitutional order by re-establishing security and political dialogue,” he said. Negotiations were currently under way and he expressed hope that a political agreement could be reached soon.
ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ GIL (Dominican Republic), said that the expected results of BINUH are contingent upon two conditions: the Haitians reaching a national agreement to combat and neutralize the gangs, and the holding of elections as soon as circumstances permit. Pointing to the lack of success in this process, he emphasized that the country must be focused on immediate pacification and political dialogue as the only adequate means to confront violence and chaos. He added that improving security support for the efforts of the Haitian National Police will enable it to combat the high levels of violence, as stipulated in paragraph 10 of resolution 2645 (2022).
Underscoring the importance of consolidated support of the international community in this process, he cited the Secretary-General in saying that “a robust force was necessary, which is capable of restoring peace and putting an end to the violence unleashed by armed gangs, infiltrated by political and economic power”. He added his strong support for this position and underscored his country’s “usual spirit” of cooperation and friendship with the Haitian Government and its people. To that end, he expressed conviction that a lasting and sustainable response to the ongoing crisis must come from the Haiti people. Notwithstanding, international cooperation is vital to ensure stability and peace in the country and in the region.
ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada) described the situation as critical, with armed gangs encircling Port-au-Prince, endangering the safety and security of its residents and overrunning the country’s main courthouse. In Cité Soleil and other areas, pregnant women cannot access essential health services due to gang violence. Yet, the people of Haiti have demonstrated their resilience. Thus, the international community must increase their resolve and stand shoulder to shoulder with them. He recalled that last week, in collaboration with Caribbean partners, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chaired a meeting of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti of the Economic and Social Council, discussing the importance of stepping up support — in both the short term and long term, including helping Haiti identify the root causes of its interconnected challenges. The international community must help create an inclusive national dialogue to enable the population to outline a path towards credible elections and a return to a stable and democratic government. Further, Haiti must receive all the support it needs in order to leave no one behind. This means giving women and young people the opportunity to play their important role in determining their future. He noted Canada established and funded a basket fund managed by UNDP to help ensure that international assistance for security is more effective and coordinated and is ready to support the Government in strengthening its capacity to fight corruption, economic crimes and money-laundering. “Haiti needs the international community to show it the solidarity needed to shape the future of this country,” he stressed.
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