UN warns Haitian gangs taking over country, extra police support not enough

gave United Nations Special Envoy To Haiti warned on Wednesday that the ongoing training and resources the international community is providing to Haiti’s national police force are not enough to fight the growing violent gangs.

Helen LaLme, the head of the UN’s coordinating office in Haiti, made an unexpected appearance at the Organization of American States meeting in Washington, DC, saying it was time to look at new partnerships as she once again They have demanded the deployment of a special foreign army.

“We’re not working,” he said. “We need to get down to the business of building this country back.”

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Powerful gangs have been infiltrating peaceful communities in the Haitian capital and beyond, with experts estimating that they now control about 60 percent of Port-au-Prince. They ransacked neighborhoods, raped adults and children and kidnapped hundreds of victims, ranging from American missionaries to a hot dog street vendor, to further control territory, leading to the July 2021 assassination of President Juvenile Moise. Since then, the violence has escalated.

“It is important for the OAS to understand that the deteriorating security situation on the ground has reached its peak, and that armed groups are now roaming the country unhindered,” said Victor Genius, Haiti’s foreign affairs minister.

Top Haitian officials, including Généus and Prime Minister Ariel Henry, have repeatedly asked for international boots on the ground, a request first made in October that was ignored by the UN Security Council, which imposed sanctions instead. are, as the United States and Canada have done.

on Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau He told reporters that the sanctions have targeted “elite families in Haiti who not only finance the gangs, but also destabilize the political world in Haiti and their economy, which is terrible for the Haitian people.” are responsible for the price.”

Canada also continues to support Haiti’s national police force and other institutions, he said, noting that previous external interventions have not worked to create long-term stability for Haiti.

“What’s clear is that there needs to be a new approach to Haiti that actually puts the Haitian people in the driver’s seat to create stronger opportunities for them and a stronger democracy,” Trudeau said.

The United Nations has warned that despite better funding and a larger police force, Haiti’s gang violence has gripped the nation. (AP Photo/Odeline Joseph)

But Haiti’s top officials disagree.

“Haiti does not have the means to solve this crisis alone,” Généus said during the OAS meeting.

Haiti’s national police has only 9,000 active-duty officers in a country of more than 11 million, and officials say the department is under-resourced and understaffed despite international support.

“It is not enough to be armed. It is not enough to strengthen the national police and the army,” said Léon Charles, Haiti’s permanent representative to the OAS and the country’s former police chief.

According to human rights activists, at least 78 police officers have been killed by gangs, which have seized police stations in some areas and burned others.

The escalation of violence has also displaced tens of thousands of Haitians and led to mass migration to the United States and other islands. The CaribbeanWith the increasing number of people traveling on non-fatal boats. Meanwhile, authorities in countries including the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands have cracked down on migrants and complained about the strain on government services.

“Haiti’s security problem is a threat to the entire region,” Généus said.

The OAS called the meeting to analyze what kind of aid is needed and where Haiti can finally hold long-awaited general elections.

Before OAS members went behind closed doors to continue discussions, LaLme said Haiti urgently needed a secure environment before holding elections.

The United Nations condemned the violence of the Haitian gang.

“Until the situation on the ground changes, nothing can move forward,” he said. “Without more security support… they won’t be able to do that.”

The meeting came as a delegation of UN officials visited Port-au-Prince on Wednesday to meet with Prime Minister Ariel Henry and witness what he called “the scale and gravity of the humanitarian crisis”. ” said and provided support for humanitarian operations.

Tariq Talahama, with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said they are seeking $700 million to help at least 3 million of the 5 million Haitians in need of humanitarian aid.

So far, funding pledges have not met expectations, “and that’s why we’re here,” he said.

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“Haitians are very dignified people and they are not just waiting for humanitarian aid. This community is looking for peace, security and safety and that is what is important and should be a priority.” Talha said.

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