UN envoy calls for deployment of int'l force in Haiti

By IANS | Published: April 27, 2023 07:00 AM2023-04-27T07:00:05+5:302023-04-27T07:30:17+5:30

United Nations, April 27 The top UN envoy for Haiti has called for the deployment of an international ...

UN envoy calls for deployment of int'l force in Haiti | UN envoy calls for deployment of int'l force in Haiti

UN envoy calls for deployment of int'l force in Haiti

United Nations, April 27 The top UN envoy for Haiti has called for the deployment of an international specialised force in Haiti to quell armed gang violence.

"I would like to emphasise the urgent need for the deployment, authorised by the Security Council, of an international specialised force, as articulated by the (UN) Secretary-General in his letter dated October 8, 2022. We need to find innovative ways to define the force to support the Haitian National Police," said Maria Isabel Salvador, the special representative of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for Haiti and head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), on Wednesday.

Haiti requires immediate assistance to counter increasing armed gang violence and to develop its police. The rapidly deteriorating security situation demands that the country remain at the centre of international attention and action. Further delay in addressing the unprecedented insecurity in Haiti could also lead to a spill-over of insecurity in the region. The decisive support of the Security Council remains crucial in ensuring security, rule of law, stability, and peace in Haiti, she added in her first briefing to the Security Council in her current capacity.

"Time is of the essence, and the Haitian people deserve your urgent action. If not supported, the vicious circle of violence, political, social, and economic crisis, in which the people struggle every day, will continue to turn. Breaking this daunting circle must not be delayed. The Haitian people cannot wait. We need to act now," she said.

A path for Hait to engage in dialogue toward restoring democratic institutions in the country has been charted. However, the general sentiment among Hait is that it will be difficult to move forward without effectively addressing rampant insecurity, Salvador added.

Gang violence is expanding at an alarming rate in areas previously considered relatively safe in Port-au-Prince and outside the capital. The horrific violence in gang-ridden areas, including sexual violence, particularly against women and girls, is emblematic of the terror afflicting much of Haiti's population, she said.

According to data collected by the Haitian National Police and by BINUH, in the first quarter of 2022, 692 criminal incidents homicide, rape, kidnappings and lynching were reported. In the same period in 2023, the number of recorded criminal incidents more than doubled. Last month showed the highest incident rates since 2005, Salvador added.

Faced with increasingly violent armed gangs vying for control of neighbourhoods of the capital, with limited or no police presence, some residents have begun to take matters into their own hands. These dynamics lead indefectibly to the breakdown of the social fabric with unpredictable consequences for the entire region, she warned.

Only two days ago, in Port-au-Prince, a group of civil took 13 suspected gang members from police custody, beat them to death and burned their bodies, she said.

With the increase in armed gang violence, Hait have continued to suffer one of the worst human rights crises in decades. People living in areas under gang control are exposed to the highest rate of human rights abuses. Interviews carried out by BINUH indicate that gangs continue to use sexual violence, including multiple-perpetrator rape, to terrorise and inflict pain on population living in areas under the control of their rivals. Other forms of sexual violence, such as sexual exploitation, were also reported as being used by gangs against women and girls living in communities under their influence, she added.

Children are among the victims of the most heinous crimes, including killings, kidnappings, and rape. Over the last three months, school children have been hit by bullets while sitting in their classrooms and kidnapped when being dropped off at school. Many schools closed late last year as a result of violence and extortion by gangs. Despite most reopening in early 2023, many children have not returned to the classroom due to violence near the school or in their neighbourhoods, or inability of their families to pay school fees, she noted.

Salvador said she was deeply shocked by reports of snipers indiscriminately targeting civil. In this context of high vulnerability, children are being recruited into armed gangs, Xinhua news agency reported.

Nearly half the population 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Nearly 39,000 suspected cases of cholera have been reported since the epidemic reappeared in October 2022, she added.

The Haitian government has continued to invest in the national police. However, the force is severely understaffed and ill-equipped to address the violence and criminality. Deaths, dismissals, and increased resignations among the police have cut its operational strength from 14,772 to about 13,200 personnel, of whom only 9,000 perform police tasks. Barely 3,500 police officers are on public safety duty at any given time, nationwide. In the meantime, recruitment of new police officers has been halted due to deteriorating security and logistical constraints, said Salvador.

The national police succeed in mounting some effective anti-gang operations but holding these security gains is merely momentary. The need for urgent international support to the police to address the rapidly deteriorating security situation cannot be overemphasised, she added.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor

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