Haitian Prime Minister calls on the army to counter gang violence
Haitian soldiers during a ceremony marking the country's independence in Port-au-Prince, November 18, 2022.
Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry signaled Friday that he wants to mobilize the Haitian military to help the national police fight the country's increasingly powerful gangs.
The leader said during an appearance at the headquarters of the armed forces that he intended to mobilize all security forces in the country in the fight against gang violence.
This statement comes against an uncertain backdrop as Haiti and some UN officials continue to press the international community to x27;it deploys foreign armed troops to help quell widespread violence.
Jean Robenson Servilius, who works in the Haitian Defense Ministry's press office, confirmed to The Associated Press that officials are working on plans to involve the military.
He said that the armed forces currently number some 2,000 soldiers and that more are being recruited, and clarified that they have been trained by experts in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia.
The Haitian military had been disbanded in 1995 after participating in several coups, and had been accused of other political interference. The armed forces had been restored by assassinated President Jovenel Moïse in 2017, after the UN ended its peacekeeping operation in Haiti known as MINUSTAH.
Since then, the army has played a limited role, which includes, among other things, the protection of the Prime Minister of Haiti.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry at a ceremony in honor of slain President Jovenel Moïse
Are we ready to work hand in hand with law enforcement in the fight against insecurity?, asked Ariel Henry during his visit to Haiti's military headquarters.
The Prime Minister did not specify when the army would be deployed, how many soldiers would be called up for duty or what role they would play, but he stressed that their help was needed.
“The Haiti we want, we can't build it with gangs rampant everywhere. They must listen to reason, or we will make them listen to reason in spite of themselves.
— Ariel Henry, Prime Minister of Haiti
Gangs control approximately 60% of the capital city of Port-au-Prince and have killed, in recent years months, hundreds of people in their fight to control more territory following the assassination of Jovenel Moïse, in July 2021.
Tens of thousands of ;Haitians have been relocated due to violence which UN officials say has reached levels not seen in decades.