Violence and humanitarian crisis are reaching new heights in Haiti, warns the UN

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Violence and humanitarian crisis reach heights in Haiti, alarms UN

Endemic violence aggravated by fuel and food shortages lead to regular riots in Haiti. (File photo)

Gang violence and humanitarian emergency have reached levels 'not seen in decades' in Haiti, alarmed Tuesday the UN, insisting on the need to send an international force, request on the table of the Security Council for three months, without result.

Gang-related violence has reached levels not seen in decades. Killings and kidnappings have increased for the fourth year in a row, said Helen La Lime, UN envoy to the impoverished Caribbean country, presenting Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' latest report to the Security Council.

In 2022, 1359 kidnappings were recorded, more than double of 2021, an average of 4 per day. Murders also rose by a third in a year, to a total of 2,183, he added.

Gang violence is part of well-defined strategies designed to enslave the population and expand their territories, she pointed out, denouncing the use of rape of women and sexual assault. children as a tactic to spread fear.

The violence provoked by criminal gangs in Haiti is forcing many citizens to flee their homes.

The Haitian police are certainly equipped with new armored vehicles, notably supplied by Canada, but overwhelmed and in dire need of personnel and resources, it has not been able, on its own, to prevent the alarming rise in violence by organized gangs, underlines Antonio Guterres in his report.

For example, in Cité-Soleil, in the suburbs of the capital, hardly a day goes by without snipers armed with assault rifles firing indiscriminately at the inhabitants, including including women and children, whether on the streets or in homes, he adds.

So, I reaffirm that there is an urgent need to deploy an international specialized armed force, insists the secretary general.

A request also repeated by Haiti's Ambassador to the UN Antonio Rodrigue. The time is serious, we need a lot more action, there is no room for fatigue, he told the Council, noting that without security, we cannot can claim honest, transparent and democratic elections.

In October, the Secretary General had relayed a call for help from Prime Minister Ariel Henry, asking the Security Council to send this force. But without result since: while a few countries have indicated that they are ready to participate, none seem to want to take the lead.

A man walks near a burning barricade, in Port-au-Prince, on the 30 October 2022.

The Council has, however, put in place a regime of sanctions aimed at gang leaders. One of the elements that can contribute to overcoming the crisis, according to Helen La Lime.

A chronic security and political crisis that has worsened in recent months, accompanied by a resurgence of cholera.

As a result, the people of Haiti are suffering the worst humanitarian and human rights emergency they have seen in decades, according to the report.

With a 63% increase in the price of the average food basket since 2021, 4.7 million people are now acutely food insecure, according to the UN. And 58% of the population lives below the poverty line.

In this context, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week approved emergency aid of 105 million dollars for Haiti, in particular to support the population most affected by the rise in food prices.

The IMF also recognized the efforts made by the Haitian authorities to restore economic stability, in particular by adopting a budget for 2023 in line with the agreed objectives, including that of strengthening accountability in the collection and the use of public resources.

A Haitian with symptoms of cholera is transported in a wheelbarrow to the Cité-Soleil slum in Port-au-Prince.

And this, despite the institutional void pointed out by the #x27;UN. In the absence of elections organized since 2016, Haiti has had no elected representative at the national level since the beginning of January.

And the legitimacy of the Prime Minister, appointed just 48 hours before the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, is widely questioned.

Several members of the Security Council, however, said they were encouraged by the signing in December of an agreement between political, economic and civil society leaders for the organization of elections and the establishment of a new government by early 2024.

This is an opportunity for Haitians to restore stability in their country and to improve governance, said US Representative Robert Wood.

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