By Editor-July 3rd, 2023.
Antonio Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations, has called for a “robust international force” to help Haiti’s beleaguered police fight criminal gangs on a visit to the Caribbean nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
The visit on Saturday was Guterres’s first to Haiti as head of the UN and was meant to spotlight the crises facing the country as it struggles to combat violent gangs that have largely overrun Port-au-Prince.
“We must put Haiti on the international political map and make the tragedy of the Haitian people the international community’s top priority,” Guterres told reporters following a meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
“I met Haitians and I felt the exhaustion of a population that has been facing a cascade of crises and unbearable living conditions for too long,” he said.
For months, the UN chief has been calling on nations to send a “rapid action force” to support Haiti’s security services. But no such force has yet been deployed as no country has stepped up to take the lead.
Guterres pleaded for solidarity and urged the UN Security Council, which is due to discuss the situation in Haiti later this month, “to authorise the immediate deployment of a robust international security force”.
“Every day counts”, the UN chief said. “If we don’t act now, instability and violence will have a lasting impact on generations of Haitians.”
While there has been broad support for Guterres’s proposal to create a rapid action force, with several countries expressing interest in contributing, none has volunteered to lead the operation in Haiti.
Canada and Brazil have both been heavily involved in discussions and several Caribbean nations have backed such a force.
Joe Biden, the president of the United States, has made it clear that Washington, which has a long history of intervention in Haiti, will not lead a force and instead wants to focus on bolstering the fledgling national police.
Sources: United Nations, Al Jazeera.