The top UN envoy for Haiti on Wednesday called for the deployment of an international specialized force in Haiti to quell armed gang violence.
“I would like to emphasize the urgent need for the deployment, authorized by the Security Council, of an international specialized force, as articulated by the (UN) secretary-general in his letter dated Oct. 8, 2022. We need to find innovative ways to define the force to support the Haitian National Police,” said Maria Isabel Salvador, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s special representative for Haiti and head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH).
Haiti requires immediate assistance to counter increasing armed gang violence and to develop its police. The rapidly deteriorating security situation demands that the country remains at the centre of international attention and action. Further delay in addressing the unprecedented insecurity in Haiti could also lead to a spill-over of insecurity in the region.
The decisive support of the Security Council remains crucial in ensuring security, rule of law, stability, and peace in Haiti, she said in her first briefing to the Security Council in her current capacity.
“Time is of the essence, and the Haitian people deserve your urgent action. If not supported, the vicious circle of violence, political, social, and economic crisis, in which the people struggle every day, will continue to turn. Breaking this daunting circle must not be delayed. The Haitian people cannot wait. We need to act now,” she said.
A path for Haitians to engage in dialogue toward restoring democratic institutions in the country has been charted. However, the general sentiment among Haitians is that it will be difficult to move forward without effectively addressing rampant insecurity, said Salvador.
Gang violence is expanding at an alarming rate in areas previously considered relatively safe in Port-au-Prince and outside the capital. The horrific violence in gang-ridden areas, including sexual violence, particularly against women and girls, is emblematic of the terror afflicting much of Haiti’s population, she said.
According to data collected by the Haitian National Police and by BINUH, in the first quarter of 2022, 692 criminal incidents — homicide, rape, kidnappings and lynching — were reported. In the same period in 2023, the number of recorded criminal incidents more than doubled. Last month showed the highest incident rates since 2005, said Salvador.