‘Despair’ in violence-stricken Haiti, UN hears

‘Despair’ in violence-stricken Haiti, UN hears

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‘Despair’ in violence-stricken Haiti, UN hears
Haitians throw stones at police during a violent demonstration in August 2022; They protested the rising cost of living and insecurity as the country, the poorest in the western hemisphere, mired in gang violence and political unrest
AFP – Richard Pierrin

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Officials at the UN Security Council on Monday described a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Haiti as the nation reaches “a new level of desperation” after two weeks of violence and attacks on food aid warehouses.

Protests and looting have rocked the already unstable country since 9/11, when Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced an increase in fuel prices; Subsidies are too expensive for one of the poorest countries in the world.

“An economic crisis, a gang crisis and a political crisis have turned into a humanitarian catastrophe,” Haiti’s UN envoy Helen La Lime said during an emergency council meeting.

“Prior to the current civil unrest, around 4.9 million Haitians were in a state of humanitarian need. In the last two weeks alone, attacks on the WFP (World Food Program) have contributed to the loss of around 2,000 tons of food aid worth nearly $5 million, which would have collectively supported up to 200,000 of the most vulnerable Haitians over the next month,” he said you.

She also said that the tank terminal in Varreux has been under a “state of siege” for more than a week, blocked by criminal gangs.

The fuel shortage is affecting the ability of the entire country to function, La Lime said, including closing hospitals.

It resulted in the shutdown of Haiti’s largest industrial park, Caracol, “which could result in the loss of 12,000 jobs,” said Haitian Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus, who also attended the meeting.

He pointed out that private companies were threatening to leave the country and that the return to school, already postponed to October 3, is now “hypothetical”.

WFP Deputy Executive Director Valerie Guarnieri lamented the crisis in Haiti.

“Unfortunately, instead of the progress hoped and dreamed of, the situation in Haiti today has reached a new level of desperation,” she told the council, noting that the price of a basic food basket has risen 52 percent in less than a year.

“We expect food security to continue to deteriorate this year, surpassing the record high of 4.5 million people estimated to be facing crisis or worse acute food insecurity, including 1.3 million people in distress,” she said.

She added that the instability is making implementing the relief program on the ground both difficult and dangerous, particularly due to concerns about ransacking warehouses holding supplies for the 2022 hurricane season.

– group violence –

Geneus said that “except for isolated incidents” the violence “has been generally under control and calm has returned in several parts of the country”.

He called for “strong support” from the international community for Haitian police against armed gangs.

In July, the Security Council passed a resolution calling on UN member states to ban the transfer of small arms to gangs operating in Haiti, without going so far as to enforce an embargo requested by China.

“It is necessary for the Council to change this voluntary measure into a mandatory one,” Chinese Ambassador Geng Shuang said again on Monday.

The United States and Mexico, which authored the July resolution, are working on new text “that proposes specific measures to enable the Security Council to address many of the challenges faced by the people of Haiti,” US said -Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis.

Mexican Ambassador Juan Ramon de la Fuente warned: “Unless gang violence is stopped, it will not be possible to stabilize the country.”

Haiti, which shares the mountainous Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, has a population of more than 11 million. The population of the Dominican Republic is 11 million.

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