UN ponders rapid armed force to help end Haiti’s crisis

SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres submitted a letter to the security council on Sunday proposing the immediate activation of a fast-action force following a call for help from Haitian as gangs and protesters paralyze the country.
The letter, which has been viewed by the Associated Press but has not been released to the public, said rapid action forces would be deployed by one or more member states to assist the Haitian national police.
That force would “remove the threat posed by armed gangs and provide immediate protection for critical infrastructure and services”, as well as ensure “free movement”. of water, fuel, food and medical supplies from major ports and airports to communities and healthcare facilities.”
The letter also states that the secretary-general could deploy “additional UN capabilities to support ceasefires or humanitarian arrangements.”
However, the letter notes that “returning to stronger UN engagement in the form of peacekeeping remains a measure of last resort if no decisive action is taken by the international community.” emergency action consistent with the options outlined, and the failure of national law enforcement capacity to reverse the deteriorating security situation.”
A Canadian official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter told the AP on condition of anonymity that “we are closely monitoring the situation in Haiti and will work with our international partners to assess Haiti’s request for more international assistance.”
The letter suggests that the action force is quickly phased out as Haitian police regain control of the infrastructure and that there may be two options: member states to form a special international police force. mandate to help and advise local officers or to form a special force to help tackle gangs” including through joint offensive, isolation and containment operations across the country. ”
The letter notes that if member states do not “move forward with bilateral support and funding,” a United Nations operation could be an alternative.
“However, as pointed out, returning to UN peacekeeping operations is not a priority option for the authorities,” the report states.
The letter also said that the security council could decide to strengthen the current police composition United Nations Office of the United Nations in Haiti called BINUHand called on Member States to provide additional equipment and training to local police, which are understaffed and under-resourced.
Only about a third of the 13,000 are active in a country of more than 11 million people.
The secretary-general said the issue was an urgent one, noting that Haiti “is facing a cholera outbreak amid a severe security crisis that has paralyzed the country.”
On Friday, the Haitian government released an official document signed by Prime Minister Ariel Henry and 18 top officials requested from international partners “immediate deployment of a specialized armed force, in sufficient numbers”, to prevent “criminal actions” of gangs with armed all over the country.
The request comes nearly a month after one of Haiti’s most powerful gangs besieged a key fuel station in the capital, Port-au-Prince, blocking the distribution of some 10 million gallons of diesel and gasoline and more than 800,000 gallons of kerosene stored on site. .
Tens of thousands of protesters have also blocked streets in Port-au-Prince and other major cities in recent weeks, blocking the flow of traffic including water trucks and ambulances, as part of the ongoing protests against the skyrocketing prices of gasoline, diesel and kerosene.
Gas stations and schools are closed, while banks and grocery stores operate on a limited schedule.
Protesters are demanding the resignation of Henry, who announced in early September that his administration could no longer afford fuel subsidies.
The increasingly severe paralysis has dried up supplies of fuel, water and other basic goods amid a cholera outbreak that has left several people dead and dozens more sick, with Health officials warn that the situation could worsen amid a lack of drinking water and cramped living conditions.
More than 150 suspected cases have been reported, with the United Nations warning that the outbreak is spreading beyond Port-au-Prince.
The outbreak comes as Unicef ​​warned that three-quarters of major hospitals across Haiti were unable to provide vital services “due to fuel crises, insecurity and looting.”
The U.S. Embassy issued temporary permits to staff and urged U.S. citizens to leave Haiti immediately.
Haitian officials did not say what kind of armed force they were looking for, with many local leaders dismissing the idea of ​​a UN peacekeeping force, noting that they had been accused of attacks. sex work and sparked a cholera outbreak that killed nearly 10,000 people during the 13-Year Mission in Haiti that ended five years ago.
A Brazilian general and former head of the United Nations peace mission, who remains anonymous because of his involvement with the United Nations, told the AP news agency this weekend that any peacekeeping mission would be established at the discretion of the security council if it believes there is an international risk. Guard.
The UN will send a team to evaluate, then the security council will decide if money is available and which countries will be available for volunteering.
He noted that a military mission could cost between $600 and $800 million and would include 7,000 military components, plus police and civilian components.
“This is an ongoing crisis that makes short-term solutions difficult,” he said. “International help is needed, no doubt about that.”


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