United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling on the international community to "act now" and deploy a robust non-U.N. armed force to Haiti to support the national police in stopping the gang violence overwhelming the island nation.
"Nothing short of the robust use of force, complemented by a suite of non-kinetic measures, by a capable specialized multinational police force enabled by military assets, coordinated with the national police, would be able to achieve these objectives," Guterres told the 15-nation U.N. Security Council in a report seen by VOA on Tuesday.
In October, Haiti's prime minister asked the Security Council to urgently send an international force, but it has taken months for a handful of countries to step forward to consider sending police.
In his report, the U.N. chief welcomed Kenya's announcement earlier this month that it is considering leading a potential multinational force. He also acknowledged pledges of support from the Bahamas and Jamaica, and announcements made by Antigua and Barbuda to consider contributing to the force.
"I urge additional Member States, particularly from the Americas, to continue to build on this new momentum," Guterres said.
Guterres offers two options
The secretary-general said the current situation is not conducive to a U.N. peacekeeping mission, and he offered two options for the United Nations to support a multinational force. The first would provide logistical support for the multinational force and the Haitian national police. The second option is strengthening the U.N. special political mission in Haiti, known by its acronym BINUH, to expand its current support to the Haitian police.
"Given the high need for enhanced security assistance in Haiti, the simultaneous provision of both support options may be required to maximize the impact of the deployment of a non-United Nations multinational force," he said.
Guterres made a brief visit to Haiti in July. His report emphasizes the extreme violence that armed gangs are inflicting on the population.
"Reports include indiscriminate shooting of people in public spaces or in residences, burning people alive in public transportation vehicles, mutilation and execution of people perceived to be opposed to the gangs," he writes. Gangs are also using rape to intimidate, punish and control entire communities.
Haitians face hunger, fear
The U.N. says large-scale gang attacks have displaced almost 130,000 people. Nearly 5 million Haitians are also suffering acute levels of hunger due to the insecurity, as armed criminals block key island roads and access to markets. People are afraid to leave their homes lest they are kidnapped, raped or killed.
In October, the U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed its first sanctions on Haiti in five years, targeting those fueling gang violence. But they have so far had little impact in stabilizing the situation.