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.