U.S., Mexico Call for Haiti Security Mission to Confront Gangs

People displaced by gang war violence in Cite Soleil collect water from a well at the Hugo Chavez Square transformed into shelter living in inhumane conditions in Port-au-Prince, Haiti October 16, 2022. REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo
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Oct 17 (Reuters) – The United States and Mexico said on Monday they will seek support from the United Nations for a security mission to restore order in Haiti amid a worsening humanitarian crisis, but did not identify who would lead the mission.

Haiti is facing dire shortages of basic goods and a paralysis of economic activity due to the blockade of a fuel terminal by gangs, which has halted transport and left many without food or clean drinking water amid an outbreak of cholera.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier this month suggested sending in a “rapid-action force,” according to a letter seen by Reuters. read more

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. representative to the United Nations, said during a Security Council meeting on Monday that the resolution would propose a “carefully scoped non-U.N. mission led by a partner country with the deep and necessary experience required for such an effort to be effective.”

The Security Council is separately considering a sanctions regime to impose an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo on anyone who threatens the peace in Haiti, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Thursday. read more

U.S. lawmakers introduced a bill on Monday to investigate and punish any political elites colluding with the gangs. read more

But the administration of President Joe Biden has appeared skeptical of sending troops to Haiti, which has a long history of U.S. military intervention.

Representatives of Russia and China responded to the proposal with skepticism, noting that some Haitian leaders have openly opposed the idea of a foreign intervention and questioned the effectiveness of such a force.

“Will sending such a rapid action force to Haiti receive the understanding, support and cooperation of the parties in Haiti?” asked the representative from China. “Or will it face resistance or even trigger violent confrontation from the population?”

A U.N. peacekeeping mission known as MINUSTAH, which operated in Haiti between 2004 and 2017, faced harsh criticism over problems including its role in a 2010 cholera outbreak.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Miami, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

U.S. lawmakers push for more action to help struggling Haiti

People displaced by gang war violence in Cite Soleil take refuge at the Hugo Chavez Square in Port-au-Prince.
A woman cooks inside her makeshift tent at the Hugo Chavez Square where she shelters from gang war violence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti October 16, 2022. REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Democratic and Republican members of the U.S. Congress announced legislation on Monday intended to help Haiti address a worsening humanitarian and security crisis by punishing members of political elites found to be colluding with criminal gangs.

The Haiti Criminal Collusion Transparency Act of 2022, introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives, would require the U.S. State Department to investigate the relationship between gangs and elites, and provide reports in Congress.

It would impose sanctions for human rights violations and visa restrictions on both Haitian gang leaders and those who support their activities.

“It is time for both Haiti’s gangs and their financers and political backers to face more consequences for threatening Haiti’s future and broader hemispheric stability,” Senator Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

The blockade of a major fuel terminal by gangs protesting a plan to cut fuel subsidies has prevented the distribution of diesel and gasoline in Haiti, halting transport and cutting off the capital from the food-producing south.

As a result, some Haitians are experiencing catastrophic hunger, while the gangs are using sexual violence to instill fear, a U.N. report found last week.

On Saturday, U.S. and Canadian military aircraft delivered tactical and armored vehicles and other supplies to Haitian police to help them combat the gangs.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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