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UN Security Council appeals for support for Haiti police

Police officers patrol a neighborhood amid gang-related violence in downtown Port-au-Prince in April 2023
Police officers patrol a neighborhood amid gang-related violence in downtown Port-au-Prince in April 2023 - Copyright AFP/File RICHARD PIERRIN
Police officers patrol a neighborhood amid gang-related violence in downtown Port-au-Prince in April 2023 - Copyright AFP/File RICHARD PIERRIN

The UN Security Council on Friday urged the international community to support Haiti’s police, but stopped short of any concrete moves to create an international intervention force that is being called for by the crisis-wracked country.

Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, has seen compounding humanitarian, political and security crises, with gangs controlling most of the capital and terrorizing the population with  kidnappings, rape and murder.

The Security Council’s unanimously adopted resolution encourages member states “to provide security support to the Haitian National Police,” including through “the deployment of a specialized force.”

But the text, which was focused on a one-year extension of the mandate for the special UN political mission to Haiti, BINUH, stopped short of making any direct plans for such a force.

The 15 member states asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit a report within 30 days on “the full range of support options” for improving security, in particular in fighting arms trafficking, providing police training and bolstering a “non-UN multinational force, or a possible peacekeeping operation.”

For months, Guterres and Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry have called for an international force to help quell the mounting violence, but there has been little action as no country has stepped up to lead the operation.

Violence meanwhile has continued “to escalate and spread,” Guterres said in a report Friday, citing murders, kidnappings, rape of women and girls, looting, and the displacement of thousands of people.8

Between January and June homicides increased by 67.5 percent compared to the second half of 2022, according to the document, which said some victims had even been beheaded.

Without a sufficient security apparatus to combat the rampant gangs, Haitians have begun taking matters into their own hands, including via the emergent “Bwa Kale” self-defense movement, which has spread across the country.

From late April to late June, at least 224 suspected gang members were killed by vigilante groups, sometimes having been stoned, mutilated or “burned alive in the middle of the street while police officers stood by.”

– ‘Disappointment’ –

While some members of the Council, notably the United States, have indicated support for a possible international intervention, endorsement is far from unanimous.

“The 30-odd years of UN practice in Haiti have shown that quick fixes implemented from the outside often fail to deliver long-term results or help Haiti truly emerge from the crisis,” said Geng Shuang, deputy UN envoy from China, which holds veto power on the Security Council.

“Before taking the next step, the United Nations should fully learn from the past,” he said.

While China has long advocated for a broad arms embargo, he said “no amount of support for Haitian police will make any difference unless the flow (of weapons to gangs) is stopped.”

The Security Council resolution reiterates a call on member states to prevent the transfer of small arms to gangs.

Friday’s text is “a step in the right direction,” Haitian Ambassador Antonio Rodrigue said, but added it would not be “sufficient to help the government face the security challenge.”

“The population is waiting for a concrete decision on the deployment of an international force, which has not happened, and the disappointment is great,” he added. 

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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