UN envoy calls for int’l action to address insecurity in Haiti

The top UN envoy for Haiti has called on the Security Council to take decisive action to address insecurity in Haiti as gang violence is paralysing the Caribbean nation.

“To support Haitian institutions in their drive for civic order and accountability and to save thousands of lives that will otherwise be lost, members of this (Security) Council must act, and decisively so, to help address the persistent scourges of insecurity and corruption in Haiti,” said Helen La Lime, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti, on Monday.

Any comprehensive resolution requires a Haitian-led political solution. But a political solution continues to be elusive, and on its own is no longer sufficient to address the current crisis, she added.

La Lime said she briefed the Security Council three weeks ago of three intersecting crises — economic, security, and political, Xinhua news agency reported.

“A humanitarian emergency is now at our doorstep. Within four days of those remarks, the government confirmed the first case of cholera in Haiti in over three years,” she added.

Within weeks, dozens more cases have been confirmed, more than half resulting in death, with hundreds more suspected in the West and Centre Departments, she said.

As undocumented cholera cases tear through parts of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, gangs continue to blockade the Varreux terminal where most of the country’s fuel is stored. The consequences for Haiti’s basic infrastructure have been severe, disrupting operations at the country’s hospitals and water suppliers, impacting cholera response. Without fuel, waste is not removed from neighbourhoods, while torrential rains promote flooding, which mixes with refuse to create insalubrious conditions ripe for the spread of disease, La Lime added.

Neither the work of the police nor political efforts have succeeded in easing the situation. Without free movement of fuel, Haiti will be unable to get ahead of this current crisis, she said.

It is against this backdrop of insecurity and humanitarian crisis that on October 7, the Haitian Council of Ministers authorised the Prime Minister to request the support of a specialised international armed force to help secure the free movement of water, fuel, and medical supplies to prevent the situation from deteriorating further, she added.

“I can only reiterate the Secretary-General’s call on Haiti’s partners to consider this request as a matter of urgency for the immediate relief of those already most vulnerable.”

As 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 and customs for the benefit of the state coffers and the population at large. Haitians are actively using both social media and radio debates to express support for serious targeted sanctions against those who are driving violence to prevent changes that threaten long-standing patterns of corruption, she said.

Economic deprivation is leaving the population more vulnerable than it has been in years. Gang violence is critically inhibiting a humanitarian response to a resurgent disease as well as to hunger, with a record 4.7 million people facing acute hunger. The urgency of the situation is tearing at the political and social fabric of the country, she added.

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