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Avellon Williams 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI- After demonstrators demanded the resignation of Haiti’s Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry on Monday, a senior United Nations official warned that a political solution is “no longer sufficient” to resolve the crisis.

Political crisis in Haiti /Image, MM/

According to Helen La Lime, UN Special Representative in Haiti, there is no political solution in Haiti, and, on its own, this is not enough to address the crisis and save thousands of lives.

As a result, she urged ambassadors to “act decisively and address the persistent scourges of insecurity and corruption that are accelerating Haiti’s decline.”

UN Antonio Guterres /Image, PV/

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Monday that armed action is needed to open a life-saving humanitarian corridor in Port-au-Prince due to heavy-armed gangs blocking vital humanitarian and civilian supplies and cholera posing a growing threat.

“I am talking about something that needs to be done based on strict humanitarian criteria, independent of the political dimensions of the problem that need to be solved by the Haitians themselves”, Guterres said, urging the Security Council to act, strengthening the police with training and equipment, but the current crisis “means more action is needed.”

A surge in cholera cases has compounded Haiti’s problems.

/Image, KPI/

Over half of the cholera cases in the West and Centre Departments have resulted in deaths in the last few weeks, La Lime said.

Additionally, undocumented cases of the deadly waterborne disease continue to spread through parts of the capital, according to her.

Further complicating Haiti’s crisis, gangs continue to blockade the Varreux terminal, where most of the country’s fuel is stored.

Haiti’s basic infrastructure has suffered severe consequences, disrupting hospitals and water suppliers, impacting cholera response”, La Lime told Security Council members. Without fuel, trash cannot be removed from neighbourhoods, while torrential rains cause flooding, which mixes with refuse “to create conditions conducive to disease spread”.

Helen La Lime /Image, CNG/

According to her, neither police work nor diplomatic appeals, including those made by the UN, have succeeded in establishing a humanitarian corridor.

Over a thousand kidnappings have been reported in 2022 alone, according to the Special Representative, and general insecurity continues to prevent millions of children from attending school, isolate entire neighbourhoods, and leave families vulnerable to extortion, including being burned to death in their own homes.

“It is to be hoped that this weekend’s arrivals in Port-au-Prince of important Haitian-purchased tactical equipment, delivered by Canada and the US, will assist the police in regaining control of the situation”, she said.

/Image, THT/

To ensure proper accountability, and also to reinforce nationally-led initiatives, such as the proposed judicial units specialized in prosecuting gang-related crime and financial crimes, La Lime said that any enhanced security support for the Haitian National Police (HNP) should be accompanied by support for the justice system.

“Under such a state of persistent civil unrest, violence and looting [including of World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warehouses], basic rights are being flagrantly undermined across the country,” she said. “Gangs continue to injure, kidnap, rape and kill”.

/Image, CA/

As if this wasn’t enough, the UN said gang violence was preventing a proportional humanitarian response to cholera and food shortages, as the poor economy leaves them in a vulnerable condition.

According to the UN, 4.7 million people are suffering from acute hunger, including tens of thousands who are on the verge of starvation.

“In order to assist Haitian institutions in their quest for civic order and accountability – and to prevent the loss of thousands of lives that might otherwise be lost – members of this Council must act decisively and decisively to help combat the persistent scourges of insecurity and corruption in Haiti,” La Lime said.

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Avellon Williams

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