UN boss renews call for multinational police deployment to Haiti

UNITED NATIONS (CMC) — United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has appealed to the Security Council to ensure that a multinational police force is sent to Haiti to restore peace and security in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country.

In a report that was circulated to the 15-member Security Council, the UN secretary general outlined two potential UN options, namely providing logistical support to a multinational force and Haiti’s police and strengthen a UN political mission already in Haiti.

“Haiti’s current context is not conducive to peacekeeping,” Guterres wrote, adding, “Nothing short of the robust use of force, complemented by a suite of non-kinetic measures by a capable specialised multinational police force enabled by military assets, coordinated with the national police, would be able to achieve these objectives.”

The report by Guterres comes even as the Caricom Eminent Persons Group (EPG) said it has been holding virtual discussions with Haitian stakeholders as efforts continue to deal with the ongoing socio-economic and political situation there.

The group, headed by former St Lucia Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony and includes his two former prime ministerial colleagues Bruce Golding of Jamaica and Perry Christie of The Bahamas, had travelled to Port-au-Prince last month to continue meeting with government and other Haitian stakeholders.

A statement issued by the Guyana-based Caricom Secretariat Monday said that following their visit to Haiti on July 12-15, the EPG had called on the various groups of stakeholders with which it had been engaging to pursue discussions with each other, formally or informally.

“These discussions could help to narrow differences and to build on broad agreements that had been reached. The EPG has been helping this process by carrying out virtual meetings over the past weeks with various groups of protagonists to deepen discussion on the areas of political disagreement in order to surmount differences which impede arrival at a consensus and to maintain the facilitation momentum.

“The point in the facilitation process has been reached to deepen discussions to find common solutions,” the statement said.

In his report, Guterres, who had held talks with Caricom leaders during their summit in Trinidad and Tobago last month and also visited Port-au Prince, urged countries to join Kenya in sending a multinational force to deal with the security situation in Haiti.

Kenya’s Foreign Minister Alfred Mutua said last weekend that his country’s commitment is to deploy a contingent of 1,000 police officers to help train and assist Haitian police restore normality in the country and protect strategic installations.

Two Caricom countries — The Bahamas and Jamaica — have already said they are willing to provide personnel and the United States has also indicated a willingness to put forward a Security Council resolution to back a deployment.

Guterres called on member states, particularly in the Americas, “to continue to build on this new momentum”, citing also the “extreme violence” of gang attacks.

“The capital is encircled by gangs and effectively cut off by road from the northern, southern, and eastern parts of the country,” Guterres said in his report, adding that any targeted operations against gangs must also protect people and respect human rights and due process.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Monday said persistent violence in Haiti remains a significant concern for the safety and welfare of its most vulnerable citizens, especially women and children, citing reports of an “alarming spike” in kidnapping and other crimes.

According to UNICEF, nearly 300 confirmed cases were reported in the first six months of 2023, almost matching the total number documented over 2022 and close to three times the number in 2021.

Earlier this week, seven former Haitian prime ministers said they were “deeply disturbed by the continued deterioration of the general situation” and called for “a spirit of openness for a constructive debate” regarding the future of the country.

The seven — Jean Max Bellerive, Laurent Lamothe, Evans Paul, Enex Jean Charles, Jack Guy Lafontant, Jean Henry Céant and Joseph Jouthe — have, in a joint statement, said they have established a Forum of Former Prime Ministers (FAPM) to pursue their goals.

Last year, Haiti’s Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry sent an urgent appeal to the UN asking for “the immediate deployment of a specialised armed force in sufficient quantity” to stop gang warfare in his country.