Security Council gives UN chief 30 days to come up with options on how to fight Haiti’s armed gangs

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The UN Security Council on Friday asked the secretary-general to offer options to help fight Haiti’s armed gangs, including a possible UN peacekeeping force and a non-UN multinational force.

A resolution passed unanimously by the council calls on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report on “a full range” of options within 30 days to improve the security situation, including additional training for the National Police of Haiti and support for the fight against illegal arms trafficking. to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

It also authorizes up to 70 UN police and corrections advisers to step up support and training for the understaffed and underfunded Haitian National Police. And he “encourages” countries, particularly in the Caribbean region, to respond to the calls of the Haitian Prime Minister and Guterres for the deployment of a specialized international force.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry issued an urgent call last October for “the immediate deployment of a specialized armed force, in sufficient quantity” to stop the gangs. However, more than eight months later, no country has taken the lead in such a force.

Guterres, who visited Haiti earlier this month, called last week for a robust international force to help the Haitian National Police “defeat and dismantle the gangs”.

He said UN Independent Expert for Haiti William O’Neill’s estimate that up to 2,000 more anti-gang police are needed is not an exaggeration. O’Neill, who wrapped up a 10-day trip to Haiti this month, is an American lawyer who has worked on Haiti for more than 30 years and helped establish the Haitian National Police in 1995.

The gangs have grown in power since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7, 2021 and are now estimated to control up to 80% of the capital. The upsurge in murders, rapes and kidnappings led to a violent uprising by civilian vigilantes.

The country’s political crisis is compounded by gang warfare: Haiti was stripped of all democratically elected institutions when the terms of the country’s 10 remaining senators expired in early January.

The resolution, co-sponsored by the United States and Ecuador, “strongly urges” all countries to ban the supply, sale or transfer of weapons to anyone who supports gang violence and criminal activity.

He reiterates the need for all Haitians, with the support of the UN political mission known as BIHUH, to establish “a Haitian-led, Haitian-owned political process to enable the organization of free, fair and credible legislative and presidential elections”. And he calls on Haitians “to urgently reach an agreement on a sustainable, time-bound and commonly accepted roadmap for the elections”.

The resolution extends BINUH’s mandate until July 15, 2024 and also encourages the mission “to explore options for improving the Haitian criminal justice sector in order to combat impunity.”

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the resolution an important step in helping the people of Haiti shape their future and restore democratic order.

But she said, “we need to do more,” and urged the 15-member council to join the United States in working with BINUH, the Haitian government, and the international community to “help the people of Haiti secure a future.” more just and peaceful”.

China’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Geng Shuang, reiterated Beijing’s position that the most urgent task is to stabilize the security situation and stop the flow of weapons, otherwise “no support for the Haitian National Police will not make a difference.”

He pointed out that the actions of the UN in Haiti over the past three decades “have shown that quick fixes implemented from outside often fail to produce long-term results that will help Haiti truly emerge from the crisis. “.

“The United Nations should fully learn from the lessons of the past,” Geng said.

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