Top US Official to Visit Haiti

Uzra Zeya and Secretary of State Antony Blinken

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Department of State says a top official will travel to Haiti on Tuesday to meet with officials on the ongoing political, economic and humanitarian crises in the French-speaking Caribbean country.

It said Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya will travel to Haiti and Panama during a five day period.

In Haiti,  Zeya will meet with Prime Minister Ariel Henry “to discuss an inclusive, Haitian-led political dialogue that will lead to free and fair elections; how Haiti can provide better security for all its citizens; and support for returning Haitian migrants.”

The Under Secretary will also meet with Minister of Justice Liszt Quitel to discuss the investigation into the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the Bel-Air, La Saline and Grand Ravine massacres, the State Department said.

“The Haitian people deserve justice in all these cases,” it said, adding that Zeya will also meet with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) “to thank them for their humanitarian assistance and earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti, including IOM’s assistance to the Haitian government in receiving Haitian returnees.

“These meetings will advance partnerships that are addressing the root causes of migration in Haiti, and support Haitian-led efforts toward the restoration of democratic institutions,” the US State Department added.

Zeya will travel to Panama City to meet with Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo and participate in a high level security meeting with government.

“The October 14 High-Level Security Dialogue will advance ongoing collaboration between the United States and Panama to jointly address regional migration challenges, combat money laundering and drug trafficking, and fortify respect for democratic principles across the region,” the statement said.

It said the Under Secretary will also meet with international organizations, civil society, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) “to further collaboration with these important partners on issues relating to security, providing international protection and migration management.”

Zeya will travel to the Darién region to learn about Panamanian, US and international organizations’ efforts “to address the challenges of irregular migration and to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants.”

Late last month, the United Nations said conditions on the ground are “dire for the thousands of Haitian migrants being forced to return to their homeland from the Americas, many of them empty-handed and bewildered.”

Giuseppe Loprete, chief of the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Mission in Haiti, told the UN that around 5,500 people have been forcibly returned to Haiti since September 19, “with thousands more expected in the days ahead.”

Those being expelled from the US border area and flown home, often after spending years away, are “returning to a land facing multiple crises,” said Loprete, including “a recent devastating earthquake, rampant gang violence and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

US Congressman Gregory W. Meeks said his “heart goes out to the people of Haiti, especially those seeking refuge at our borders that have fled their homes after enduring extreme political and environmental hardships.

“American values dictate that we respond to our neighboring friends with compassion, as the Haitian government responds to multiple, overlapping crises,” said Meeks, who represents the 5th Congressional District in Queens, New York.