ARIEL HENRY, Prime Minister of Haiti, spotlighting the difficulty of achieving sustainable development without peace and security, said that multiplying security, health and food crises “remind us that we are moving further away from the lofty ideals of the Charter of the United Nations”. An estimated 258 million people needed emergency assistance in 2022 due to food insecurity caused by conflict and violence, and the COVID-19 crisis caused stagnation in the global economy. Less-developed countries — especially Haiti — are facing price volatility and serious crises exacerbated by deteriorating national security situations. And with every hurricane, Caribbean economies suffer huge losses that challenge socioeconomic and political progress through the destruction of economic, educational, health and energy infrastructure. Haiti has reached a critical point, where armed gangs assassinate, set fires, pillage, steal and abuse with particular cruelty — driving people from their homes, blocking roads and forcing schools, hospitals and businesses to close.
Further, he reported that a deteriorating security situation has led to a new humanitarian crisis, with displaced persons occupying more than 25 schools in the capital under “subhuman conditions”. Systematic human rights violations caused by gang violence compromise the peace, stability and security of the country and region. As a result, Haiti has experienced five years of economic contraction, negative growth rates and increased inflation, and half the population lives below the poverty line on less than $2 a day. “We are not here to make up for or justify the past,” he said; rather, “we are here to ask friendly countries to understand there is something urgent to be done to benefit the people of Haiti”. That country has borne successive shocks over the last 15 years, including three major earthquakes, several cyclones and the 2021 assassination of former President of Haiti Jovenel Moïse. “It is impossible today to invent a peaceful story about Haiti,” he observed.
He therefore requested help to bolster the Haitian National Police, pressing the Security Council to urgently act under Chapter VII of the Charter to “authorize the deployment of a multinational support mission to underpin the security of Haiti”. Such mission should consist of both police and military personnel to support the police in combating gangs and restoring peace and order. The use of force — as an initial step — remains essential to creating an environment in which the State can function properly. However, he underscored that a solution to extreme poverty must also be found, as this is “the origin of all ills facing my country”. Such poverty accentuates youth unemployment and marginalizes poor communities, making a life of crime tempting. He called on all political actors to work with the Government to combat gangs, restore security and, “as true democrats, seek power via the ballot box”.
On that, he underscored the Government’s determination to hold elections “as soon as practically possible”, stating that Haiti needs a return to normalcy to address the major challenges it faces. Turning to the situation “causing unnecessary problems” between his country and the Dominican Republic, he said: “Haiti is not at war with anyone.” The Massacre River is a background for friction between the two countries, and he therefore underlined the need to “do our very best to ensure that old demons do not break free again”. Calling for equitable sharing of the river’s resources, he added that the Haitian people choose the path of dialogue and negotiation to peacefully resolve any differences under the auspices of international agreements signed in good faith between the two States in 1929 and again in 2021.
Addressing the UN General Assembly on Friday, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry again appealed for international support to combat rampant gang violence – one element of the multi-dimensional crisis affecting his country.
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