Visiting Haiti, the UN chief warns of the dramatic situation of the population, handed over to “bands of predators”

It is not the first alarm signal from the United Nations (UN) on the terrible drift in Haiti, but it is launched at the heart of the country’s visit by the head of the international agency, Antonio Guterres.

“We must put Haiti on the map of international political life and put the drama of the Haitian people as (…) priority of the international community”so begged, Saturday 1stum July, the Secretary General of the United Nations, at the end of this trip of “solidarity” of a few hours. “I met the Haitians and felt all the weariness of a population that has been facing a cascade of crises and unsustainable living conditions for too long”he added, saying he did “heard their cry for help” on his first visit to the impoverished Caribbean country as head of the United Nations.

“Now is not the time to forget Haiti”hammered, after meeting the prime minister, Ariel Henry, leaders of various political parties and members of civil society.

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Antonio Guterres in particular urged the Security Council, which is expected to discuss the situation again in July, “authorize the immediate deployment of a robust international security force”.

A call that went unheard

In October 2022, he broadcast this call from Ariel Henry for a non-UN force set to bolster a police force overwhelmed by gang violence that continues to spread. But nine months later, the appeal fell on deaf ears. While some countries have declared their readiness to participate, none have volunteered to lead such an operation in a country seared by multiple foreign interventions.

“I ask states that have the capacity to provide a robust security force to have no further hesitation and to be ready to follow a decision by the Security Council”insisted Antonio Guterres. “Every day counts. If we don’t act now, instability and violence will have a lasting impact on generations of Haitians.”he further pleaded.

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In recent months, many United Nations officials have managed to describe the nightmare experienced by Haitians: snipers on the roofs, kidnappings, schools targeted…

“Port-au-Prince is surrounded by armed gangs blocking the main roads leading to the North and South departments, controlling access to water, food and health care”the secretary general was alarmed on Saturday.

“Generalised Sexual Violence”

He condemned “in the strongest terms the widespread sexual violence used by armed gangs as a weapon to instill fear”. Words that echo the “horrors” described this week by the head of Unicef, Catherine Russell, talking about a situation “never worse than today”.

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“An 11-year-old girl told me in a sweet voice that five men grabbed her on the street. Three of her raped her. She was eight months pregnant when we spoke and she gave birth a few days later.”she said.

And nearly half of the population, or 5.2 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance, including nearly three million children.

Read also: In Haiti, the UN denounces a “new wave of extreme violence” after the death of more than 600 people in April

But humanitarian aid is not enough to meet these needs. Again, Antonio Guterres appealed to the international community: “It is a question of solidarity, but it is also a question of moral justice. »

No elections since 2016

He also asked for a return “to democratic order as soon as possible”asking everyone to do it “go beyond personal interests and make concessions to favor the emergence of a common vision and a viable and credible electoral path”.

No elections have been held since 2016 and Ariel Henry, appointed prime minister just 48 hours before the last president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in July 2021, faces questions about his legitimacy.

Read also: World hunger: Haiti, Mali, Burkina Faso and Sudan placed on maximum alert by the UN

After Haiti, Antonio Guterres will travel to Trinidad and Tobago for the summit of the countries of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), which will also be attended by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the Haitian dossier.

The world with AFP