The national dialogue hoped for by the country’s leaders is still proving to be a daunting task, prompting President Jovenel Moïse to solicit help from UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres to intervene and help bring the recalcitrant opposition groups to the dialogue table. The solicitation was revealed by Foreign Affairs Minister Bocchit Edmond, who asked the UN to serve as an observer to the elusive inter-Haitian dialogue as some opposition leaders refuse to respond to the president’s call to have an unconditional dialogue about ways to alleviate the manifested ills of the country. The Minister also revealed the government’s intentions to call on the UN Special Representative in Haiti, Ms. Helen La Lime to facilitate this intervention with the UN and to provide technical assistance regarding the dialogue and measures to address the proliferation of guns in the country.
The head of the United Nations Peace Keeping Operations, Jean Pierre Lacroix announced the beginning of a transitional phase of MINUJUSTH operations in the country, as their mandate is winding down. The representative assured that in order to create the conditions for a successful transitioning, the entity will continue to implement its mandate and anchor the progress made in its benchmarks. Despite the worsening situation within the country since last July, the MINUJUSTH leader was quick to point out that there has been progress made in certain areas such as reinforcing state institutions, in spite of the fluid political environment and the ever-degrading economic situation. Some of these institutions include the national police, who according to the Five (5) Year Strategic Development Plan 2017-2021 is currently on track, with an officer to population ratio currently at 1.32 officers per 1000 people, which is close to the goal of 1.45 officers per 1000 people; and at least more than 35% of the police in all other departments. While the UN supports Haitian leaders’ decision to end the UN mission’s mandate in October, they will nevertheless support efforts to build a viable society by supporting human rights and acting in an advisory capacity. Although the US representative, Jonathan Cohen expects the Security Council to set up the special policy advisory mission in time to ensure a smooth transition, that includes human rights to advance the progress made by the MINUJUSTH.
In other political news, President Jovenel Moïse announced over tweeter his choice to be the next Prime Minister, in the person of the current interim one, Jean Michel Lapin. After consultations with Presidents of both houses of the legislature, Mr. Moise President chose the interim Prime Minister over other contenders; Marjorie Alexandre Brunache and Gabriel Fortuné. A native of Jacmel, Lapin started his career as a civil servant at the ministry of public health (1988-1989) then became the Administrator of the National Library from 1989 to 2007. In February 2007, he joined the ministry of Culture and Communication as a simple messenger and rose to Managing Director, and then named Minister of the same agency on September 18, 2018. If the legislature endorses the President’s choice, he will become the 22nd Prime Minister the country has known in thirty years.
In order to fight violence against children, World Vision International launched a campaign called “40 days for children” across the country, following the international campaign launched on March 10, 2019around the theme “Together, Let’s Eliminate Violence against Children”. Ms. Fédorah Pierre-Louis, Director of Public Engagement at World Vision stressed the need for all sectors of public life of the country must be engaged in this special campaign in order to eradicate all forms of child abuse. The program is currently in progress in 14 Latin American and Caribbean countries from March 6, 2019 through April 14, 2019.The goal is to educate the citizenry on abuses that children face, be it physical, sexual or emotional. The activities include workshops, days of reflection, concerts, prayer sessions, meditation and fasting, among others, to bring attention to the issues around protecting children. In Haiti, the figures are alarming as more children are victims of physical abuse, beatings, sexual abuse as well as children living in domestic servitude.
In other news, the US Under Secretary of State for Canada, Haiti and the Caribbean, Cindy Kierscht, met with President Jovenel last Thursday to discuss issues on opportunities for economic growth, the stalled national dialogue and plans for the legislative and local elections. She also met with the chief of police, Michel Ange Gédéon and leaders of the various political parties as well as civil society leaders. With the police, the discussions were around security issues and the gang violence that is taking roots in the country. She encouraged all those involved in the life of the country to work together to find common ground on issues of political, social and economic development of the country.
Meanwhile, the police failed to arrest the gang leader in the Village de Dieu, Arnel Joseph, in a predawn operation to capture him in his holdout. Mr. Joseph escaped capture only to appear in his hometown, Post Pierrot, the 4th rural section in Dessalines, in the Artibonite Department. Though the police did not provide any details, media outlets reported one casualty and one wounded, among the police, in the operation that lasted till the early afternoon. By the end of the day, the gang leader and his gang members could be seen walking freely on the streets in his hometown. Holding out in his hometown, He tried to ridicule the national police by saying that the security forces were undertaking an operation to capture him in the Village de Dieu while the authorities know full well that he was in Dessalines and not in the Village de Dieu.
Finally, Dr. Jean Patrick Alfred, Director of Studies and Programming at the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) calls for greater efficiency in the country’s health system, during a ceremony commemorating World Health Day on Monday, April 8, 2019. Mr. Alfred reiterated the major challenges facing the country such as insufficient equipment, financial resources and a heavy and permanent reliance on foreign aid and assistance. The Minister of health Marie Gréta Roy Clément also spoke of the alarming conditions of the health system that should challenge the conscience of the authorities. The theme of the occasion “’Manger vert, manger rouge, manger jaune” is designed to bring attention to Vitamin A deficiency in the country. The day also calls on health care providers and professionals to think about improving the conditions of those who are more vulnerable to health problems, while other doctors call for improving health education. Those honored on the occasion include Dr. Anne Chimène Lamothe, Dr. Joseph Robert Saliba and Nurse Marie Suzette Desmangles for their efforts made in the health system in the country. The Grande Anse health center and Carribex S.A also received the Serge Toureau prize for their fight against Vitamin A deficiency in the country.