Haiti crisis merits intervention, draft US proposal for UN says

The United States has drafted a United Nations Security Council resolution encouraging “the immediate deployment of a multinational rapid action force” to Haiti in response to the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation there, according to a copy of the resolution obtained by The Washington Post.

The drafting of the resolution follows a push by UN Secretary General António Guterres for the creation of an international force to bolster the Haitian National Police as powerful armed gangs destabilize the country, disrupting the supply of fuel and electricity to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The resolution is the first sign that the Biden administration may be willing to participate in a Haitian mission that has a military component. US officials have been noncommittal when asked about requests to send US forces to ease the violence and misrule that has led to a shortage of clean drinking water and threatens to worsen a cholera outbreak.

The resolution does not identify specific countries that would participate in the rapid reaction force, nor does it spell out what roles those nations would play.

Neither the White House nor the State Department immediately responded to requests for comment about the draft resolution, which was first reported by the McClatchy news organization. A spokesperson for the Haitian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment either.

A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, declined to comment.

A person familiar with discussions underway within the US government, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the matter is considered sensitive, said that any American military personnel involved in a Haitian mission would likely provide logistical support only. This person said they were unaware of any plans to put US “boots on the ground.”

Steep fuel price hikes spark violent protests in Haiti

The United States has long been reluctant to deploy military forces in Haiti. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States would accelerate the provision of humanitarian aid to Haiti, and “increase and deploy” security assistance for the country’s national police “in coming days.” He did not specify what that could entail, saying only that the aim was to “strengthen their capacity to counter gangs and reestablish a stable security environment under the rule of law.”

In this week’s proposal, Guterres recommended that countries send a rapid-response force that would be followed by a mission led by the United Nations. In the draft resolution reviewed by The Post, which a diplomat said was up to date as of Friday, the United States is “encouraging the immediate deployment of a multinational rapid action force to support the [Haitian National Police]as recommended in the Secretary General’s letter.”

It is unclear the degree to which other members of the UN Security Council support such a move, if China or Russia would veto the proposal, or if the current draft may change substantially before being proposed by the United States as soon as Monday.

The resolution also imposes an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on criminal elements in Haiti. It singles out Haitian gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, who is known as Barbecue, as someone who has “engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Haiti and has planned, directed, or committed acts that constitute serious human rights abuses.” “

In Haiti, a man named Barbecue tests the rule of law

Last month, Cherizier, who leads the group G9 Family and Allies, blocked access to Varreux Terminal in Port-au-Prince, the capital. The port is responsible for about 70 percent of the fuel distributed in the country.

Cherizier is seeking a change in the leadership of the country, governed since last year by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who assumed power after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Moïse’s killing remains unsolved.

The blockade has exacerbated a dire economic and social situation in Haiti. Hospitals are running out of fuel in the middle of a resurgence of cholera earlier this month. Banks are open three days a week, as opposed to six normally. At least one bank branch is scheduled to close next week due to fuel shortage.

Cholera resurfaces in Haiti as gangs hinder access to water, hospitals

According to the World Food Program, 4.7 million people in Haiti face varying degrees of hunger, with an estimated 19,000 experiencing what the organization considers catastrophic levels.

Port-au-Prince is increasingly becoming an isolated island with gangs, often tied to the political and economic class, blocking the main roads, all but eliminating connection to the north and the south of the country. Their grip renders it extremely difficult for humanitarian assistance to reach those in need.

Outgunned by the gangs, the Haitian National Police has lost control of the situation. Local media reported that in recent days a gang seized an armored vehicle and stole the equipment inside.

On Saturday, the State Department issued a statement saying US and Canadian military aircraft arrived in Port-au-Prince that day to deliver “vital Haitian government-purchased security equipment, including tactical and armored vehicles,” to Haiti’s authorities.

“The equipment will assist the [police] in their fight against criminal actors who are fomenting violence and disrupting the flow of critically-needed humanitarian assistance,” the statement said.

Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report. Mérancourt reported from Port-au-Prince.

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