Haiti gang leader offers conditional disarmament, UN warns of worsening crisis

Daily News Egypt
3 Min Read

A powerful Haitian gang leader, Jimmy Chérizier, also known as “Barbecue,” has offered a conditional ceasefire. Chérizier says his group would consider laying down arms if armed factions are included in talks to establish a new government.

The Caribbean nation has been in political turmoil since March 12th when Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned. His attempt to return from Kenya, where he secured a deal for a multinational security force, was thwarted by armed gangs.

This power vacuum has allowed gangs to further tighten their grip on the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other parts of the country, leading to a surge in violence. Schools, health facilities, and even humanitarian aid deliveries have become targets.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) expressed concern about the deteriorating situation. “Schools and students in Port-au-Prince are bearing the brunt of the ongoing violence,” the organization stated.

UNICEF reported a recent arson attack on a school, depriving over 1,000 children of education. They estimate that over 1,000 schools have been forced to close due to the violence. The health sector is also severely impacted, with at least half of all health facilities in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area either closed or severely disrupted.

Despite the challenges, UN humanitarian agencies continue their vital work. UNICEF and its partners have provided medical consultations and psychosocial support to displaced people, while the World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed hot meals and drinking water. 

However, WFP warns that their emergency assistance is in jeopardy due to a lack of funding. They require an additional $61 million over the next six months to continue hot-meal programs. The overall funding gap for the UN Humanitarian Response Plan in Haiti stands at a staggering $103 million.

The UN Secretary-General’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, echoed the need for safe access to deliver aid and urged for increased funding. He highlighted that the current funding level for the Haiti Humanitarian Response Plan is only at 6.6%.

The escalating gang violence has claimed over 1,500 lives in Haiti this year alone, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Chérizier’s offer of conditional disarmament presents a glimmer of hope, but the success of any peace talks hinges on a complex political landscape and the desperate need for international support.

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