HTI | May 16, 2023

Current situation in Haiti ‘reflects a threat to the security’ to Caribbean region and further afield, says UN Sec-Gen

Candice Stewart

Candice Stewart / Our Today

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United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Antonio Guterres at a press briefing held on May 15 at the Office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica. (Photo: Tamoy Ashman/ Our Today)

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked the the international community “to understand that an effective solidarity with Haiti is not only a matter of generosity, it’s essentially a matter of enlightened self interest because the present situation of Haiti reflects a threat to the security to the region and further afield.”

“Haiti is in a tragic situation. You have dramatic humanitarian needs, you have a political system that is paralysed and you have levels of violence by gangs that are absolutely appalling, the number of people who are killed, the number of people unable to live their lives, the dramatic food insecurity problems are indeed something that needs much stronger commitment by the international community,” he said.

Guterres was speaking at a joint press briefing with Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Monday (May 15) where they addressed matters of climate change and the impact to small island developing states (SIDS) and the humanitarian crisis happening in Haiti.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Antonio Guterres (Photo: Tamoy Ashman/ Our Today)

He added: “We have a political problem and they need to bring the given stakeholders together to find a political way for a legitimate government to be recognised by all at the moment in which that political process is successful and we need to address the violence of the gangs.”

The UN Secretary-General shared that a few months ago, he made a proposal to the United Nations Security Council that it would be necessary, in the context of the support of equipment and of training of the Haiti’s police force and to have the presence of an international robust police force to crack down on the gangs and gang violence currently gripping the country. He mentioned that such an action would be parallel with the political process “to create conditions for Haiti to be able to address its dramatic situation.”

He noted that “it has been a difficult exercise” and that it has been “difficult to mobilise the will of those that would have the best capacity to lead this operation” to create the political conditions to make it easier for different countries to accept to be part of the process to assist in the efforts.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Antonio Guterres shakes hands with Prime Minister Andrew Holness at a press briefing held on May 15 at the Office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica. (Photo: Tamoy Ashman/ Our Today)

For his part, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said, “as we do have this platform, we repeat our call for greater attention to be paid by the international community to the very urgent security and humanitarian situation in Haiti. CARICOM is doing its part within its resources to assist. We led a mission to Haiti, which I led, and we had very meaningful discussions with the stakeholders there and that process is advancing.”

“I take the view that with greater effort, we can see a breakthrough towards a better and broader consensus towards a solution in Haiti. The inescapable fact, however, is that Haiti needs security support,” Holness added.

Guterres highlighted that Jamaica was the first country that “immediately expressed its readiness” to be part of the operation to assist Haiti. He also stated that, “Jamaica, in the context of CARICOM is involved in a very important political process in trying to bring together the different stakeholders to find a way out of this political crisis. I know of the visit that was paid to Haiti and I know that a new meeting is scheduled and that three eminent personalities have been put in charge of leading this process of dialogue.”

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Antonio Guterres (Photo: Tamoy Ashman/ Our Today)

“I want to express my full support to the initiatives of Jamaica and CARICOM,” the UN Secretary-General added.

The Prime Minister followed by saying, “It is not that our pleas have fallen on deaf ears, they are being heard and listened to. The question is the pace of action, and as the secretary-general said, countries who would want to support would also want to be assured that there is a political process in place that could yield an end result in a time-frame that makes sense in terms of making a commitment.”

Holness also said that there is a step that also needs to be taken which is building towards political consensus and CARICOM is playing an active role in trying to get to that consensus point so that the end game of any form of support is clear. He said he believes that progress is being made but “clearly, there needs to be more tangible effort into what we’re doing in terms of supporting Haiti”.

Gangs in Haiti have continued to grow in strength since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Residents have been caught in the middle, as large portions of the capital and other areas have become lawless. Deadly gang turf battles have left hundreds dead and thousands displaced.

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