UN deputy urges countries to consider armed force for Haiti

Dec 21, 2022, 8:51 AM | Updated: 10:53 pm
FILE - A police convoy escort fuel trucks filled with gas as they drive from the Varreux fuel termi...

FILE - A police convoy escort fuel trucks filled with gas as they drive from the Varreux fuel terminal, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Nov. 8, 2022. U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, speaking to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, urged countries to urgently consider Haiti’s request for an international armed force to help restore security in the country troubled by gang violence. A U.N. special envoy said intentional killings and ransom kidnappings have increased sharply, armed gangs control the main roads entering or leaving the capital, the police force is shrinking, and a third of schools are closed.(AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph, File)

(AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N.’s deputy secretary-general urged every country “with capacity” to urgently consider the Haitian government’s request for an international armed force to help restore security and alleviate a humanitarian crisis in the Caribbean nation, which is in “a deepening crisis of unprecedented scale and complexity that is cause for serious alarm.”

Amina Mohammed also reiterated Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for international support for the beleaguered Haitian National Police.

“Insecurity has reached unprecedented levels and human rights abuses are widespread,” she told the U.N. Security Council. “Armed gangs have expanded their violent criminal activities, using killings and gang rapes to terrorize and subjugate communities.”

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the country’s Council of Ministers sent an urgent appeal Oct. 7 calling for “the immediate deployment of a specialized armed force, in sufficient quantity” to stop the crisis caused partly by the “criminal actions of armed gangs.” But more than two months later, no countries have stepped forward.

Meanwhile, the already terrible situation in Haiti has gotten worse.

Helen La Lime, the U.N. special envoy for Haiti, told the council that gang violence has increased to “alarmingly high levels,” marked by spikes in kidnappings, killings and rapes.

“November witnessed 280 intentional homicides, the highest on record,” she said. Reported kidnappings for ransom have exceeded 1,200 cases so far this year — double the number recorded in 2021 — “making every commute for the average Haitian an ordeal.”

La Lime said the increase in reported rapes reflects the “horrendous” use of sexual violence by gang members “to intimidate and subjugate whole communities,” and the brutality of this violence “has become a badge of notoriety for perpetrators.”

Compounding the plight for millions of Haitians, the gangs control all main roads in and out of the capital, Port-au-Prince, which has created a “catastrophic economic situation” because trade is now stymied, she said.

“Close to half the population are food insecure, with some 20,000 people facing famine-like conditions,” thousands are displaced and 34% of schools remain closed, La Lime said, and the number of suspected cholera cases has increased to 15,000.

She said the Haitian National Police force continues to shrink, with its operational strength down to 13,000 personnel, with fewer than 9,000 available as active-duty officers.

While police have carried out some effective operations against gangs in Port-au-Prince, La Lime said, they need a specialized force as secretary-general Guterres outlined in October.

Many Haitians have rejected the idea of another international intervention, noting that U.N. peacekeepers were accused of sexual assault and sparked a cholera epidemic more than a decade ago that killed nearly 10,000 people. The United States has led several interventions in Haiti, including in 1994 and 2004, and there is also opposition to another American military foray.

Some opponents claim Henry hopes to use foreign troops to keep himself in power. He assumed the premiership last year after the still-unsolved assassination of President Jovenal Moise. Many consider Henry is illegally in the position because he was never elected nor formally confirmed in the post by the legislature.

Henry has failed to set a date for elections, which have not been held since 2016, but has pledged to do so once the violence is quelled.

Haiti’s Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus told the council the circumstances that pushed the government to request an international force to support the police “to eradicate or at least contain the phenomenon of armed gangs” and restore order haven’t changed much. He said the Haitian people “in their vast majority” favor an international force “no matter what some say.”

Geneus said Henry met civic, business and political leaders Wednesday morning to sign a “National Consensus” document that will establish a transitional council to move toward organizing elections “in the course of next year.”

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood said because of the upsurge in gang activity the United States continues “to advocate for international security support, including a non-U.N. multinational force as requested by the Haitian government.”

He made no mention of countries that might lead or participate in such a force but said the U.S. has provided more than $90 million in security support to Haiti in the past 18 months and will continue to provide “critical support.”

Canada’s U.N. Ambassador Robert Rae, whose country has been mentioned as a possible leader of a multinational force, told the council: “The solutions must be led by Haiti, not by Canada, not by the United States, not by anyone here, not by any country, not by the U.N.”

He said the plans have to come from within the country after “a deep and sustained political dialogue” and “we need to make a concerted effort to understand the needs of Haitians and to support the country’s plans.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Zoubin Ghahramani, vice president of research at Google, speaks at the Google AI@ event on W...
Associated Press

Google has the next move as Microsoft embraces OpenAI buzz

Before the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT was unleashed into the world, the novelist Robin Sloan was testing a similar AI writing assistant built by researchers at Google.
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Group’s lawsuit seeks to void Washington transportation law

A conservative legal advocacy organization is suing to halt the nearly $17 billion transportation funding bill passed by the Washington Legislature and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee last year.
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Dance hall 911 caller: ‘He might start shooting again’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A gunman had fired his first deadly shots outside a dance hall when Monterey Park police got a call for help from a man trying to make sense of what happened to his partner sitting in the car next to him. “Is your girlfriend awake?” the dispatcher asked. “I’m not sure,” […]
2 days ago
Cricket Hall speaks against a bill that would ban gender-affirming surgery and hormone therapy for ...
Associated Press

Crowds decry gender-affirming treatment ban in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Crowds at the West Virginia state Capitol pleaded with lawmakers Thursday to show as much compassion for saving the lives of transgender children as they showed for unborn fetuses when they voted to ban abortion just months ago. Over and over, dozens of doctors, parents and LGBTQ people told the Republican […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Closing prices for crude oil, gold and other commodities

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for March delivery fell 53 cents to $75.88 a barrel Thursday. Brent crude for April delivery fell 67 cents to $82.17 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline for March delivery was unchanged at $2.45 a gallon. March heating oil fell 5 cents $2.90 a gallon. March natural gas fell 1 cent to $2.46 […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

1 dead, officer wounded in shooting at Memphis library

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A shooting at a Tennessee library on Thursday left one person dead and a police officer “critically” wounded, authorities said. Officers were called to the Poplar-White Station Library around 12:30 p.m., the Memphis Police Department tweeted. Both the person and the officer were shot, police said. The person was pronounced dead […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
UN deputy urges countries to consider armed force for Haiti