A decree issued by the Haitian government has authorized Prime Minister Ariel Henry to request a “special armed force” from the international community to resolve a crisis caused by the blockade of the country’s main fuel port on Friday. Haiti Government Prepares To ask For ‘ Specialized Armed Force’ From Abroad
Haiti has stalled since a coalition of gangs blockaded the Varreux fuel terminal last month. Gas and diesel shortages have disrupted transport and forced businesses and hospitals to shut down.
It has also led to a shortage of bottled water, as a new outbreak of cholera has been confirmed in the country, which is controlled by sanitation and clean water. The order allows Henry to “seek and receive effective assistance from Haiti’s international partners through the immediate deployment of a specialized armed force to stop the insecurity caused by the combined actions of armed gangs and their sponsors.”
It was not immediately clear which countries would receive such a request. It was unclear whether the request would mean the activation of UN peacekeeping forces in Haiti, which ended five years ago after 11 years of trouble.
The international body has sent thousands of soldiers and police officers to restore order after a rebellion toppled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. In 2017, the United Nations withdrew military personnel and said it would focus more on the judicial system and the Haitian police.
But with about 12,800 active officers in a country of more than 11 million people, Haiti’s national police have struggled to control gangs with limited resources and chronic understaffing.
The gangs have become more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovanel Moise. Critics question the extent to which the United Nations’ goals to improve Haiti’s political stability and strengthen its rule of law have been met.
Many Haitians have strongly rejected the idea of further international intervention, noting that UN peacekeepers have been accused of sexual abuse and sparked a cholera epidemic more than a decade ago that killed thousands. Haiti Government Prepares To ask For ‘ Specialized Armed Force’ From Abroad.
“I don’t think Haiti needs any more intervention,” said Mathias Pierre, Haiti’s former election minister. “We’ve been through a lot and nothing has been resolved … If we don’t do it as Haitians, 10 years from now, we’ll be in that situation again.”
He called on the US government to help reduce the amount of ammunition and guns flowing into Haiti, and to further arm police officers so that police officers have the ability to act on more weapons and intelligence on gangs.
He was also worried about the situation facing an international security force. “It’s not an army they’re facing,” he said. “They are confronting gangs based in poor areas and using the population as a shield to protect themselves.”
The UN has not received an official request from the Haitian government, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday. “That being said, we remain extremely concerned about the security situation in Haiti, the impact it’s having on the Haitian people, on our ability to do our work, especially in the humanitarian sphere,” Dujarric told reporters. Haiti Government Prepares To ask For ‘ Specialized Armed Force’ From Abroad.
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