Haiti’s Prime Minister Warns That His Country is at a “Critical Point”

UNITED NATIONS – Prime Minister Garry Conille says that Haiti is at a “critical point” as he informed the United Nations Security Council of the first batch of the Kenya-led Multinational Security Support (MSS) Mission that has been deployed on the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country late last month.

conillpoHaitian Prime Minister Garry Conille addressing UN Security Council (UN Photo)“The arrival of the first contingent of the Multinational Security Support kicks off a new era in Haiti,” Conille said, adding “Haiti is currently at a critical point with 12,000 armed individuals holding a population of 12 million hostage”.

Kenya’s UN deputy ambassador, Njambi Kinyungu, told the Security Council that the first contingent odf 200 Kenyan police that arrived in Haiti last week, had been warmly received and was beginning joint operations with Haitian police.

Conille, a former senior UN official, said reforming the national police was “indispensable” for restoring public trust.

Kenya is spearheading the MSS to Haiti that has been wracked with political, socio-economic problems, highlighted by criminal violence ever since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021.

The African country has offered to send about 1,000 troops to stabilise Haiti alongside personnel from several other countries, including The Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize and Jamaica.

The United Nations has said that more than 2,500 people were killed or injured in the first three months of the year in Haiti and that the spike in violence has displaced more than half a million people.

Gangs now control at least 80 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince and key roads. Trapped outside the country as the international airport was closed, former prime minister Ariel Henry was forced to resign.

The Dominican Republic’s Foreign Minister, Roberto Alvarez, used the meeting to launch “an urgent appeal to all countries that have committed funding to the MSS to fulfill their pledges and to deposit those funds as soon as possible”.

The UN Integrated Mission in Haiti (BINUH) has said without substantial additional funding, he mission will be unable to complete a 12-month deployment, whose initial mandate ends in October.

BINUH also warned that more clashes between police and gangs meant that more civilians, including very young children, were being killed by stray bullets and it had reports of police summarily killing passers-by.

But UN Special Representative for Haiti, Maria Isabel Salvador, told the UN Security Council meeting that Haiti is making progress in restoring democratic institutions.

“I am happy to report Haiti is making headway toward restoring democratic institutions through enhanced security and credible elections. The installation of the Transitional Presidential Council in April, and the designation of a prime minister and a new government, sworn in last month, are clear indications of progress,” she said.

Salvador noted that the first group of Kenyan police from the MSS arrived June 25 and  despite the progress, “alarming levels of violence remain a source of great concern.

“Indiscriminate gang violence has been consistently spreading beyond the capital to other regions of the country,” she said, noting that there are 578,000 internally displaced persons, a 60 per cent increase since March.

“Rates of sexual violence and abuse remain troubling. Only 20 per cent of health facilities are operating normally,” she said, adding that BINUH will continue to support transitional authorities in key areas that include elections, constitutional reform, police development, enhancement of political dialogue and justice, as well as community violence reduction.

“BINUH, within its mandate on human rights, stands ready to provide support, when required, to the definition of a robust human rights compliance framework,” she added.

During the UN meeting, the Chinese and Russian diplomats said that stemming the flow of firearms to gangs is necessary with most of the illegal weapons seized in Haiti, and across the wider Caribbean, have been traced back to the United States.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the U.N. should strengthen its sanctions regime by targeting traffickers, who unlike the five local gang leaders already sanctioned, are more vulnerable to foreign asset freezes and travel bans.

“We do not see the current embargo doing anything to prevent the flow of arms from the US. The committee experts are clearly not eager to get into a disagreement with Washington,” the Russian diplomat added.