Robust int’l force needed to quell ‘tragic’ Haiti situation – Guterres
WHILE PRAISING Jamaica for stepping forward and leading a process to bring about a political solution to the crisis in Haiti, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has again made a strong appeal for a robust international police force to crack down on marauding gangs in the country.
Guterres, who was on a two-day visit to the island, acknowledged that Jamaica was the first country to have expressed a willingness to be part of an international police force to quell the bloodletting in the CARICOM state that is torn by gang warfare and political upheavals.
“And Jamaica, in the context of CARICOM, is involved in a very important political process trying to bring together the different stakeholders to find a way out of this political crisis,” Guterres said.
Addressing journalists yesterday at the media centre at Jamaica House in St Andrew, the UN boss said there has been a reluctance on the part of the countries that have a stronger capacity to be able to lead this kind of operation.
The UN chief urged the developed countries that have the capacity to lead the security operation to step forward.
“Haiti is not only a problem for the Haitians, it is a problem for the region and to a large extent it is a problem to us all,” he challenged.
However, he noted that the reluctance by the international community to intervene can only be addressed by putting in place a political process that is credible. That is why the Jamaican initiative is so important, he said.
In late February, Prime Minister Andrew Holness led a CARICOM delegation of leaders, which held high-level talks with government officials and members of civil society in Haiti.
The delegation held discussion with various stakeholders as they sought to determine a path towards consensus building in an effort to restore peace and stability in Haiti.
Earlier this month, news emerged out of Haiti that the country was on the brink of a civil war. One humanitarian group in the country warned that violence between criminal gangs and civilians was escalating.
Yesterday, Guterres said the situation in Haiti was “tragic”.
“You have dramatic humanitarian needs; you have a political system that is paralysed and you have levels of violence by gangs that are absolutely appalling. The number of people killed, the number of people unable to live their lives, the dramatic food insecurity problems are indeed something that needs a stronger commitment by the international community,” he stressed.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Holness said that the pleas for support from the international community for help might not have fallen on deaf ears, as they were being “listened to”. However, the prime minister was concerned about the slow pace of any intended action.
He said countries who want to provide some kind of support would also want to be assured that there was a political process in place that could yield an end result within a reasonable time frame.
Holness said that CARICOM and Jamaica have started a process that is geared towards building a political consensus in Haiti.
“We are making some progress in that regard, but there still should be more tangible effort into what we are doing in terms of supporting Haiti,” Holness said.