The situation in Haiti has reached a critical stage, according to the United Nations representative.
Maria Isabel Salvador, presenting the most recent report from the UN’s political office in Haiti, BINUH, emphasized the gravity of the situation in the country. She stated that multiple ongoing crises have reached a crucial stage.
The Caribbean nation continues to face a significant amount of violence and instability caused by armed gangs, all while dealing with ongoing political, humanitarian, and socioeconomic difficulties.
Approximately 83% of the sudden increase in homicides and injuries happened in the city of Port-au-Prince, but the level of violence has also expanded to other areas, particularly Artibonite, which is the biggest of Haiti’s 10 provinces.
In the southern region near the capital, criminal groups carried out extensive assaults in order to gain power over important areas. They also consistently employed sexual violence in territories under their authority, endangering girls and young women as young as 12.
According to Ms. Salvador, there have been at least 75 fatalities reported since her previous update in October, resulting from the rise of community-based vigilante groups as a means of protecting against gang violence.
Assist the police force in Haiti.
While BINUH is working to improve the capabilities of the Haitian National Police (HNP), high rates of attrition have weakened the force’s ability to combat gang violence and maintain security.
She stated that the assistance provided to the HNP has increased in recent months by both the Haitian Government and the international community.
This has included a 13 per cent increase allocated under the national budget for this fiscal year and the supply of individual protection equipment, armoured vehicles, motorcycles and weapons.
In October of last year, the UN Security Council gave permission for a multinational security mission (MSS) to assist Haiti’s struggling police force, with Kenya agreeing to take charge. Additionally, a sanctions system aimed at gang leaders and those who fund them was extended in November.
Ms. Salvador reaffirmed her commitment to motivating all parties involved to adequately prepare for the mission’s deployment. She also reiterated her request for countries to generously contribute towards this goal.
Break the cycle
Enhancing the security situation is crucial in order to end the continuous cycle of multiple crises plaguing Haiti. She emphasized that lasting stability can only be attained through a political process that is led by the nation and includes all parties.
Echoing the UN Secretary-General, she urged all political actors and stakeholders “in and for Haiti” to unite in prioritizing and upholding the interest of the people above all. She noted that “new violent actors have been gaining prominence” in recent months, sparking concerns over their potentially destabilizing role.
She emphasized the importance of ongoing assistance to the Haitian National Police, the swift deployment of the MSS, effective consequences, and a consistent political process that ultimately leads to trustworthy, inclusive, and participatory elections.
She stated that these are essential components in achieving security and stability in Haiti, thereby making the implementation of law, democratic institutions, and sustainable development a feasible goal for its citizens.
The illegal trade of weapons is an overlooked issue.
Ghada Waly, the leader of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), provided an update to the Council on the issue of arms trafficking and illegal financial activities in Haiti.
In October, a report from UNODC revealed four primary routes by land and sea that are utilized for trafficking illegal firearms and ammunition, primarily originating from the United States.
The most recent findings, released on Wednesday, revealed that Haiti has a total of 11 unregistered or secret airstrips located throughout the country.
“According to Ms. Wady, these smaller aircrafts flying directly between the United States and Haiti may be a potential loophole for traffickers and smugglers as they are difficult to track.”
A regional concern
According to her, the situation in Haiti is not happening in isolation, and regional factors play a significant role. She pointed out that the proliferation of illegal weapons is a major issue in the Caribbean, which contributes to the cycle of gang-related crimes and drug trafficking.
The report also outlines efforts to address corruption and illegal financial activities, which contribute significantly to violence and organized crime and negatively impact Haiti’s justice system.
However, despite ongoing efforts to fight corruption, progress is hindered by inadequate resources, a shortage of forensic tools, and a lack of skilled personnel for conducting intricate investigations.
The upcoming UNODC report will examine the intricate dynamics of gang activity in Haiti.