Haiti asks for help at the UN while the world thinks about help

United nations — The United States and Mexico said on Monday they were preparing for a United Nations resolution that would authorize an international mission to help improve security in the country. Haitiwhose government has issued a “Mayday Call” to the people of a nation torn apart by crisis.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield announced at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council as thousands across Haiti staged protests to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. The demonstrations came on the day the country commemorated the death of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the slave who became the leader of the world’s first black republic.

The US ambassador said the proposed “non-UN” mission would be limited in time and scope and would be led by an unnamed “partner country” with the “deep and necessary expertise required for such an effort to be effective.” It will have a mandate to use military force if necessary.

She said the resolution being worked on was a “direct response” to a request on October 7 by Prime Minister Henry and the Haitian Council of Ministers for international assistance to help restore security and alleviate the humanitarian crisis. It reflects one of the options outlined in a letter from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the Council on 9 October calling for the deployment of a rapid task force by one or more UN member states to assist the national police in Haiti.

Both Russia and China have raised questions about sending a foreign armed force to Haiti.

Haiti has suffered from inflation, which has caused a surge food fuel prices, and the exacerbation of protests that have brought society to the breaking point. Daily life in Haiti began spinning out of control last month just hours after the prime minister announced that fuel subsidies would be removed, causing prices to double. Gangs have blocked the entrance to the Faro gas station, leading to severe fuel shortages at a time when rising prices have made food and fuel out of reach for many Haitians, clean water is scarce, and the state is trying to deal with a cholera outbreak.

Haiti’s political instability has worsened since last year’s unresolved assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, who faced opposition protests calling for his resignation over accusations of corruption and claiming that his five-year term was over. Moise dissolved the majority of Parliament in January 2020 after failing to pass legislation electionIn 2019 amidst the political deadlock.

Haiti’s foreign minister, Jean-Victor Genos, said he came to the Security Council with a “call for help” from the Haitian people to tell the world that they “are not living – they are suffering”.

He said Haiti urgently needed “strong support” to help police end the humanitarian crisis, neutralize gangs, ensure fuel distribution and facilitate a return to normal life.

Thomas Greenfield said the decision authorizing the security mission is paired with a decision obtained by The Associated Press last week that would impose an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on influential Haitian gang leader Jimmy Schreizer, nicknamed “Barbecue.” It will also target individuals and other Haitian groups who engage in actions that threaten the peace, security or stability of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, according to the text obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday.

Some diplomats hoped for a vote on the sanctions resolution this week, but Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky said Moscow could not support the rapid push for a sanctions resolution.

He said that “deep analysis and detailed negotiations” are required “to ensure that the measures are aimed at restoring government control and are not, as is often the case, seen as a means to punish the entire country and its people.”

The US ambassador stressed that the United States is “fully aware of the history of international intervention in Haiti, and specifically concerns about the council’s authorization of a response that could lead to an open peacekeeping role.”

The Security Council and the international community should seek a “different path” to responding to the dire security and humanitarian crises in Haiti, which require “targeted international assistance” that must be combined with “support for political dialogue and sustained international pressure on the actors who support the gang’s activity.”

“The United States needs Haiti to make its own decisions and not interfere in business,” said Marco Duvivier, a 35-year-old auto parts store manager who joined Monday’s protest in Port-au-Prince, reflecting on opposition to foreign interference in Haiti. for Haiti”. . ”

He said, “Life will not improve with the presence of an international force.”

China’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Geng Shuang, noted Prime Minister Henry’s call, as well as the opposition of some political parties and groups to the presence of a foreign armed force in Haiti.

“At a time when the Haitian government lacks legitimacy and is unable to govern, will this force of rapid action to Haiti receive the understanding, support and cooperation of the parties in Haiti, or will it meet resistance or even lead to a violent confrontation from the population?” he asked. Things we need to consider… and handle them with care.”

Since the gang led by “Barbeque” has surrounded the gas station, more than 10 million gallons of gasoline and fuel and more than 800,000 gallons of kerosene stored on the site have been prevented from being distributed.

Gas stations remain closed, hospitals have cut services, and businesses including banks and grocery stores have cut business hours as the country runs out of fuel.

The situation has exacerbated the recent cholera outbreak, with hundreds of people hospitalized and dozens killed amid scarcity of safe water and other essential supplies.

The recent cholera outbreak in Haiti was the result of UN peacekeepers from Nepal introducing the bacteria into the country’s largest river via sewage. Nearly 10,000 people died and more than 850,000 became ill.

We don’t need a foreign power. “It’s not going to solve anything,” Jan Fennell said.

Helen Lime, the United Nations special envoy for Haiti, told the Security Council in a video briefing from the capital, Port-au-Prince, that “a humanitarian emergency is on our doorstep now” with disruptions to hospital operations and water supplies affecting the response to the cholera outbreak.

She said diplomats, the United Nations and others’ call for a humanitarian corridor had gone unheeded, and insecurity was rife, with nearly a thousand kidnappings reported in 2022 and millions of children prevented from going to school.

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Sanon reports from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Writer Danica Cotto contributed to the Associated Press in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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