Addressing the UN General Assembly on Friday, Prime Minister (PM) of Haiti, Ariel Henry, again appealed for international support to combat rampant gang violence – one element of the multi-dimensional crisis affecting his country.
According to Mr. Henry, armed groups control areas of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and some towns, blocking roads, driving citizens from their homes, and forcing the closure of schools, hospitals and businesses.
The “non-exhaustive” list of violations and crimes they have committed includes massacres, kidnappings, pillaging, sexual violence, human trafficking and child recruitment, he said.
Insecurity has reached a critical point in recent weeks, sparking a new humanitarian crisis, with more than 16,500 displaced people “spontaneously occupying” more than 25 schools in the capital.
“The daily life of the people of Haiti is very difficult,” said the Prime Minister, speaking through an interpreter.
“That is why the Security Council, which has the power and the necessary authority under Chapter Seven of the [UN] Charter, must take urgent action by authorizing the deployment of a multinational support mission to underpin security in Haiti.”
The proposed force would support the Haitian National Police to defeat the gangs and restore peace and order, Mr. Henry explained.
He hailed countries and organizations that have expressed commitment and solidarity, particularly Kenya, which has offered to lead the effort, and the regional bloc, CARICOM.
Mr. Henry told delegates that the use of force is an initial step to creating an environment for the State to function again. However, he emphasized that social and economic development must also be addressed to find a solution to the extreme poverty at the heart of the many issues confronting Haiti.
The Caribbean nation, which shares territory with the Dominican Republic, has suffered major shocks in recent years, including three earthquakes, cyclones, and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.
Since then, Mr. Henry has been serving as interim leader of Haiti, where roughly half the population lives below the poverty line and nearly five million people face food insecurity.