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UN Officials: Insecurity in Haiti at ‘Unprecedented Levels’

FILE - People displaced by gang war violence in Cite Soleil rest on the streets of Delmas neighborhood after leaving Hugo Chavez Square in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Nov. 19, 2022.

Senior U.N. officials have called for the international community to contribute to a specialized armed force for Haiti to help restore order to the Caribbean nation where, they say, insecurity has reached “unprecedented levels.”

In a presentation to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed said while there were high hopes a year ago for political reforms, stability and development, by the end of 2022, “Haiti is in a deepening crisis of unprecedented scale and complexity that is cause for serious alarm.”

Grim statistics

Mohammed said armed ‎gangs have expanded their violent criminal activities, using killings and gang rapes to terrorize and subjugate communities.

Reporting to the council via video from Haiti, the chief of the U.N.’s Integrated Office in Haiti, Helen La Lime, provided some grim statistics. In November alone, there were a record 280 homicides, she said, adding that more than 1,200 were reported in 2022, double the number recorded in 2021.

La Lime said the Haitian National Police "continues to be under-resourced and insufficiently equipped to address the enormity of the task ahead.”

Mohammed added that gang violence has paralyzed the country, obstructing the freedom of movement of people, goods and humanitarian aid.

“It has also fueled the resurgence of cholera, increased food ‎insecurity to unimaginable levels, displaced 155,000 people and disrupted the education of thousands ‎of children,” she said.

'An opportunity'

The deputy secretary-general said it was time for the international community to step up and help Haiti “turn the current crisis into an opportunity for Haiti to bounce back stronger.”

“I urge every country with the capacity to do so to give urgent consideration to the Haitian government’s request for an international specialized armed force to help restore security and alleviate the humanitarian crisis.”

Her appeal echoes a similar one issued in October by Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the country’s Council of Ministers, who called for “the immediate deployment of a specialized armed force, in sufficient quantity” to stop the crisis caused partly by the “criminal actions of armed gangs.”

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.