Skepticism about another intervention force for Haiti

Skepticism about another intervention force for Haiti

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Sending an international special force to Haiti could bring much-needed relief to a population stifled by powerful gangs, but any new stabilization mission stands little chance of ending the chaos without a long-term political solution, experts say.

Since mid-September, the gangs have blocked access to the all-important oil terminal, paralyzing a nation already lacking the fuel for critical jobs like distributing drinking water and powering hospital facilities.

In the face of such turmoil – the latest chapter in a chronic security, political and humanitarian crisis that now includes a deadly resurgence of cholera – Prime Minister Ariel Henry has issued an appeal to the international community.

His SOS call was repeated by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who recently urged the Security Council to consider dispatching an international armed mission to bring an end to what he described as a “nightmare situation” in America’s poorest country prepare.

But the idea of ??a new foreign military force does not find unanimous support among the people of Haiti or in the Security Council.

“Will the deployment of such a rapid reaction force to Haiti come at a time when the Haitian government … is unable to garner the understanding support and cooperation of the parties in Haiti, or will it meet with resistance or even provoke a violent confrontation.” ?” recently asked Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the UN.

Haitians have already hosted US, French and Canadian troops, as well as UN stabilization missions — one of which brought cholera to the country in 2010, causing an epidemic that killed more than 10,000 people.

“The international community has been doing the same thing for 25 years and it hasn’t produced any results,” said Gilles Rivard, Canada’s former ambassador to Haiti, who told AFP he believed the country’s citizens were “rightfully bitter”.

Some hope that sending in troops would help, at least in the short term.

“International forces could bring immediate aid to Haitians,” said Renata Segura, the International Crisis Group’s deputy program director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The mission could regain control of oil depots, restore access to drinking water, which is vital to fighting cholera, and “open the roads blocked by gangs and allow the passage of humanitarian aid and other essential supplies,” she added.

– It’s complicated’ –

But with thousands of Haitians taking to the streets to protest against both the government and outside intervention, a foreign force could become “a source of further division and hostility,” Segura also warned, fearing that such a deployment could be interpreted as support for the Haitians controversial prime minister.

Ariel Henry was appointed just two days before the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021 and has clung to power ever since, despite sections of civil society and the political opposition questioning his legitimacy.

“The country is ungovernable,” and Haitians are “unable to provide a roadmap leading to elections,” said Canadian Rivard, who sees such a plan as a prerequisite for deploying an international force.

“The Haitian government needs to be pushed to compromise with the other political parties and civil society,” Robert Fatton, a professor at the University of Virginia, told AFP.

A foreign force could “breathe life” into a population trying to “eat and go about their business without the ongoing fear of being killed by gangs or the police,” he added.

But “without a political agreement, without compromises, we’re going to have the same disaster in a year or two,” he said, suggesting instead that any international mission should focus on running an “interim government” for elections.

In a geopolitical context dominated by the war in Ukraine, “who could lead such a mission?” Rivard posed.

All eyes are on the United States, which is drafting a resolution on a non-UN mission with Mexico.

An international force remains an “urgent priority” for Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday, calling Haiti’s safety and health situation “unsustainable.”

It is difficult for US President Joe Biden to send troops to Haiti ahead of his country’s Nov. 8 midterm elections, Fatton noted. And no other nation seems enthusiastic.

“This is going to be complicated,” said the professor.

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