With violence covering the streets of Port-au-Prince and not a single neighborhood free from insecurity caused by armed gangs or vital lack of fuelAlmost everyone in Haiti’s capital is living in a state of uncertainty, said resident Judes Jonathas.
“We don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” Jonathas, senior program manager at the humanitarian group Mercy Corps in Haiti, recently told Al Jazeera on a video call, describing how no a day passed in the past week that he didn’t heard gunfire ring out.
“It’s as if we’re living every minute. We go out, we don’t know if we’ll come back or not.”
Haiti, which has faced many years political instabilityis in the midst of a deepening crisis when powerful gangs recently took control of an important petrol station in Port-au-Prince, cutting people and medical facilities off supplies. very necessary.
Last week, acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry called on the international community to form a “specialized armed force” to quell the violence, but civil society groups and rights advocates have said Henry. no legitimacy — and they rejected the prospect of foreign intervention.
“There is frustration, there is anger, there is resignation… it is on all levels [of people],” said Jonathas, of the worsening condition. “Most Haitians are traumatized.”
Haiti’s Council of Ministers authorized Henry last weekend to seek assistance from “international partners” to help with the immediate deployment of “specialized armed forces” to tackle a crisis. A humanitarian crisis is taking place across the country as a result of the gangs.
The Caribbean nation this month reported first case of cholera for more than three years, and human rights groups say the fuel blockade is hampering medical staff’s response. Many communities do not have access to clean water, the rate is already high starvation is set to get worse, and about 1.2 million children are at risk of an outbreak of cholera.
Bocchit Edmond, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, recently told Reuters news agency that he hopes the United States and Canada will “take the lead and move fast” on the country’s call for help.
United States Department of State speak on Saturday that they were reviewing the request of Haiti and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres a day later urge “The international community, including members of the Security Council, consider [it] as a matter of urgency”.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speak The Biden administration “will accelerate the delivery of additional humanitarian aid to the people of Haiti.” Blinken on Wednesday also announced new visa restrictions for Haitian officials and others “involving in the activities of street gangs and other Haitian criminal organizations.” He did not specify which officials were targeted.
Brian Nichols, US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, also traveled to Port-au-Prince on Wednesday for a series of meetings, saying Washington remains “committed to the health, safety and security of the Haitian people”.
Nous apprécions l’engagement du Canada @melaniejoly et les USA @SecBlinken aux Côtés d’Haiti en ces moment difficiles. Il est absolutely urgent pour que nos partenaires Int agissent solidairement avec nous pour nous aider à en sortir. @JeanVGeneus @EprisyOfHaiti pic.twitter.com/TeKTrm4Md0
– Bocchit Edmond (@BocchitEdmond) October 6, 2022
We appreciate Canada and the United States’ commitment to Haiti during these difficult times. What is absolutely urgent is [international] partners act in solidarity with us to get us out of this situation [situation].
While some Haitians say outside help is urgently needed, many view potential international intervention with skepticism and disdain after a long history of foreign occupation.
Over the past several decades, various UN deployments to restore security and strengthen the country’s institutions have largely failed. The United Nations peacekeeping force has also been linked to sexual violence against women and girls in Haiti, and the 2010 cholera outbreak killed about 10,000 people and caused more than 820,000 infections.
Groupe de Travail sur la Securite (GTS), a security consulting organization, led by Haitian citizens, in August waste the prospect of a new UN deployment “under the pretense of helping us restore an atmosphere of security”.
“The Haitian people have had to taste the bitterness of a foreign power in charge of our situation: theft, rape, cholera, dependence on food, deregulation of the economic system. , without mentioning the fact that we don’t remember seeing the gang leaders back then. caught or incapacitated. “
Rosy Auguste Ducena, attorney and program director at the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) in Haiti, said, “History has shown us over and over again that foreign forces bring us to more problems than solutions.”
“It’s a bit like repeating the same mistakes,” Ducena told Al Jazeera, explaining that the RNDDH had been warning for years about the deteriorating security situation and called for the Haitian National Police (PNH) to be brought under control. investigated to eliminate corrupt officers and then strengthened to put on armed groups.
But Ducena said the Haitian government never acted to address that key issue, while human rights groups also Be recorded that members of Moise and Henry’s Parti Haitian Tet Kale (PHTK) were affiliated with gangs (PDF). “The Haitian state needs to get rid of the gangsters,” she said.
“We are firm on this: there is nothing about insecurity that the police will not be able to deal with,” added Ducena – if provided with “weapons, ammunition and equipment corresponding to all weapons.” and ammunition was distributed to armed robbers”.
Flow of weapons, sanctions
People have also accused Western nations of continuing to support Henry, despite the prime minister’s decision last year to indefinitely postponed presidential and legislative elections, as well as a constitutional referendum, amid a political crisis.
Henry, who is supported by the CORE Group of Nations, which includes the United States and Canada, opposed a citizen-led initiative known as the Montana Treaty, built by the Haitian leader. civil society groups and will form a transitional government in two years.
U.S. lawmakers have recently urged (PDF) President Joe Biden’s administration to “support legitimate efforts to create a transitional Haitian government that respects the will of the Haitian people”, as well as “make it clear to Henry that they will not support him when he impedes progress.”
While the political deadlock continues, Haitian rights advocates have called for other measures to try to end the crisis, including ending the flow of weapons to the gangs – especially to the gangs. from America – and punish corrupt figures.
“Imposing sanctions against individuals with known corruption links and those who support and facilitate gang violence in Haiti [and] take drastic measures to stop the illegal arms trade from the US to Haiti,” Velina Elysee Charlier, an activist with the anti-corruption group Nou Pap Domi, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. in a hearing at the end of September.
“For decades, the international community has been violating Haiti’s right to self-determination and sovereignty; that must end. What we need is cooperation in the spirit of solidarity and mutual respect,” she said.
That was echoed by Jonathas in Port-au-Prince, who said the country’s problems do not happen overnight, nor will there be a “miracle solution”.
“You have to find the root causes. You will always find a story behind the gangs… a story of frustration, a story of inequality in society,” he told Al Jazeera. “We can always say, ‘we will destroy the gangs.’ But what do we do then to make sure this doesn’t happen again?
“We need cooperation and collaboration from everyone who really wants to support us.”