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UN envoy hopes UN will allow Haiti to fight gangs

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UNITED NATIONS – The UN special envoy for Haiti said Wednesday that she had heard the “warning” from the United States and Canada about the possibility of leading an international armed force to help Haiti fight gangs , but not “a” “definitive” no.

Helen La Lime expressed the hope that the UN Security Council will positively address the issue of the force requested by the Haitian government. She told a new conference that an international armed force would be a partner of the Haitian National Police “that would go against the gangs”.

She spoke a day after the United States and Canada showed no interest at a Security Council meeting to deploy their security personnel despite renewed calls from the United Nations and Haiti helping to end the worsening violence in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. These are the two countries most often cited as possible leaders of an international force in Haiti.

US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood told the council that “Haiti must address its persistent challenges of insecurity,” and he encouraged the international community to support its efforts.

Canada’s UN Ambassador Robert Rae said the world must learn from all previous military interventions in Haiti, which failed to bring long-term stability to the country. He said it is critical that going forward, solutions “must be led by Haitians and by Haitian institutions.”

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the country’s Council of Ministers sent an urgent appeal on October 7 calling for the “immediate deployment of a specialized armed force, in sufficient quantity”, to end the crisis caused in part by the ” criminal actions of armed gangs”. ”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the call, and La Lime repeated it on Tuesday, as more than three months later no country has come forward.

La Lime said there was widespread concern within the Security Council about the deteriorating security situation in Haiti.

She told the council on Tuesday that “gang-related violence has reached levels not seen in years.”

Homicides and kidnappings rose for a fourth consecutive year in 2022, she said. She said last year’s 1,359 kidnappings were more than double the number in 2021, averaging about four a day. Murders rose by a third to 2,183, affecting all segments of society, including a former presidential candidate and the director of the National Police Academy.

La Lime said the Security Council’s unanimous adoption in October of a resolution imposing sanctions on individuals and groups threatening peace and stability in Haiti, starting with a powerful gang leader, and the sanctions imposed by the United States and Canada are having an impact.

On the political front, she said, a “national consensus agreement for an inclusive transition and transparent elections” signed on December 21 by a wide range of political, civil, religious, labor and private sector leaders was a positive development that calls for elections. by February 2024.

But she stressed on Wednesday that the crucial missing element is a specialized international military contingent to support the police.

In the Security Council, “there is a lot of concern, and I think it’s recognized that help is needed,” La Lime said. “The sanctions continue to do their job, and we recognize that it is time to sit down and settle this question of force. So I hope the Security Council will.

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