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An economic assessment of current conditions across Haiti shows that food insecurity has
become a major issue affecting a growing segment of the population and is just as pernicious if
not more lethal than prevailing gang violence. In the assessment, economist Enomy Germain
painted a stark picture of gloom when looking at various economic indicators. According to Mr.
Germain, economic growth has been increasingly negative in the country since 2019 regardless
of the indicator one looks at, and the current outlook for the 2023/24 fiscal year does not look
encouraging either. Galloping inflation has affected the cost of living as prices vary from day to
day and the weakening gourde versus the US dollar has made foreign currency scarce, affecting
the price of commodities in the marketplace. For several months, an indeterminate number of
people have found themselves out of employment overnight, losing their jobs as a result of the
closure of various offices, service agencies as well as layoffs caused by the economic meltdown,
has lead to a weakening and loss of household purchasing power. Though there are no accurate
figures on the level of unemployment, data from the Institute of Statistics and Informatics,
l’Institut haïtien de statistique et d’informatique (IHSI), shows the poverty rate at 60 percent,
which roughly means that one out of every two Haitian has food insecurities or is living
precariously on the brink, and conditions does not appear to be improving in the foreseeable
future. In a document published on March 17, 2023, by the national food security council, la
Coordination nationale de la sécurité alimentaire (CNSA) noted that there are some 4.9 million
Haitians who are facing food insecurity and in need of urgent assistance by June 2023.
Another phenomenon affecting food insecurity is what the wholesalers must go through to get
their wares to the market. These wholesalers, the madan sara who used to stock up on their
wares in Cabaret, about 37km north of Port-au-Prince, are now obligated to pay the armed gangs
that are controlling the roads for access, and are forced to go to Gonaïves (171 km north of Port-
au-Prince), to go through Ennery and Saint-Michel de l’Attalaye to reach Saint Raphael and
Pignon, before joining Hinche, Thomonde and Mirebalais (Central Plateau department), until
taking Morne-à-cabris, to arrive in Port-au-Prince, with the goods purchased at the Cabaret
public market. At the same time, to cross through Martissant in the southern outskirts of Port-au-
Prince, an area controlled by armed gangs since June 1, 2021, and declared “lost territory by the
Henry government, one is constrained to find public transportation willing to negotiate “right of
way” from these gangs. Same is true for the madan sara getting their goods from
Malpaso/Jimani on the Malpasse border, who must pay the armed gang 400 mawozo for access
to and from to cross Croix des Bouquets. While for some people living in Léogane for fear of
crossing under lines the scale of suffering and shows that the Haitian people need urgent support
immediately. He repeated his call for the international community to send a specialized armed
force to help Haiti’s police and authorities restore order. In its quarterly update for January to
March, the UN said violence was becoming Martissant, try to take a plane from and to Les Cayes
for emergencies and other necessities. In such an environment, the extra cost is borne by the
consumer who also has little disposable income, and the result is the galloping inflation, lack of
liquidity and increasing food insecurity.
In other news, a UN report quoted by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker
Turk stated that more than 600 people died in gang violence last month alone in the country,
where the authorities are incapable of protecting the people. According to the Commissioner
every report coming from the country shows more extreme and more frequent (and) clashes
spreading relentlessly as gangs seek to extend their control. Besides the more than 600 people

killed in April alone, at least 846 people were reported killed in the first three months of 2023, in
addition to 393 injured and 395 kidnapped during that period- a 28-percent increase in violence
on the previous quarter. The report stated that gangs were using snipers to shoot indiscriminately
at people on the street and firing into homes, and people were being burned alive on public
transport, as the state, without the capacity to respond had forced people to form vigilante groups
to fight the gangs. Mob killings and lynchings of alleged gang members, bwa kale has claimed at
least 164 lives in April alone. He added, we must not forget that extreme poverty and the lack of
basic services lie at the root of the current violence and of the gangs’ power over communities.
As such, the government, with support from the international community, must do its utmost to
comply with its obligation to provide people with regular and unimpeded access to clean water,
food, health, and shelter.
Months after Interim PM Ariel Henry and the UN pleaded for international intervention, world
powers are searching for new ideas with no country eager to lead a force. In the latest effort, the
US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield sought forward movement on Haiti on a
visit to Brazil, which spearheaded a previous UN-led mission in Haiti and sits on the Security
Council. The US envoy said she came away with the view that the Brazil under President Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva cares about Haiti and want to see something done and is committed to
working with the Security Council to find a path forward. Initial efforts led by the US aimed for
another nation to lead an operation to restore basic security and government functions and pave
the way for a political transition, but no nation has been willing to lead such an effort, so
diplomats are now coming up with a conventional peacekeeping operation with contributions
from around the world. The US is not willing to commit troops and with their history with
intervention in Haiti, no one is particularly interested in this happening; and Canada which
earlier showed interest in leading the charge has since shown some reservation because of the
risks involved.
Finally, Louis Harold Joseph, a longtime respected career diplomat, has been named acting
chargé d’affaires at the Haitian embassy in Washington DC. The career diplomat who first
entered Haiti’s Foreign Service in 1982 as an assistant commercial attaché at Haiti’s embassy in
Washington, has been tapped by the Ariel Henry government to represent the country’s interests
in the US as its top diplomat. Since Haiti currently has no elected officials, including a president
or parliament, Joseph cannot be named ambassador, a title he previously held both at the
embassy in Washington, The Bahamas and Japan. He replaces Bocchit Edmond, the former
ambassador who was abruptly recalled back to Port-au-Prince and then fired at the request of the
U.S. State Department after being implicated in a money-laundering scheme and clandestine
passport-production operation inside the Haitian embassy. Edmond has strongly denied the
allegations, which also implicated his sister, Betyna Edmond, and several other employees,
including the head of the consular section, Gélorme Juste. All are expected to face wider scrutiny
as Haiti’s anti-corruption unit and government auditors carry out separate investigations in the
coming weeks. A government inquiry in August 2021 accused Bocchit Edmond of profiting from
the unsanctioned scheme, which involved embassy staffers producing passports for Haitians
living outside the US and charging bribes to expedite them. The scheme was first discovered by
U.S. federal agents when U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized documents and $50,000
cash addressed to Juste’s Washington-area home.
Dela Harlley

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