At the UN General Assembly earlier today, US President Joe Biden called on the world body to work quickly to order an international force to help the national police (PNH) fight the heavily armed gangs terrorizing the nation. In his speech the president argued that the people of Haiti can no longer wait, and it is time for the UN to order an intervention force because the world body must continue to work to preserve peace and lessen the human suffering on the island. Calling for listening to more perspectives and voices on the issue, the president expressed the US’s happiness in seeing that there are nations ready to make a new breakthrough and lead differently; such as the CARICOM led efforts to facilitate dialogue or the Kenyan government’s willingness to send in forces to accompany the national police on their work to help eradicate the epidemic that is gang violence ravaging the island nation. While they are willing to ensure that institutions are more efficient and inclusive, they hope that the Security Council will come up with a vote authorizing an intervention force by weeks end or soon.
Meanwhile the Massacre River controversy that pit the two neighbors against each other has reached a fever pitch with the Dominican Republic resolute in their position to close all borders with Haiti unless the latter changes its position on building a canal on the river. The Dominican President Luis Abinader was in New York for the UN general Assembly and at a forum held at Columbia University, the leader defended his decision to close his country’s border with their neighbor as a matter of national security. Pressed by the host and students in the audience to speak on the conflict over the canal construction, the president argued that what they are doing is protecting their country from the gangs and other individuals who are on their territory and political extremism that does not respect even the Haitian government. In his words, as a president, he must protect his country and hope they stoop the construction of the canal so that there can be a solution. The UN human rights expert in Haiti, William O’Neil called on the Dominican and Haitian governments to share all relevant information on the water table, hydrological studies, environmental impacts and other information described in the joint declaration of May 2021, in order to achieve a peaceful and rapid end to the Massacre River crisis.
Other human right organizations and the international community have voiced their opposition to the Dominican position because of the crisis in which the Haitian nation is facing and this may have a say in the Dominican President’s decision to meet with the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres on Wednesday to discuss a call from a UN expert to allow humanitarian supplies to pass through the country’s shuttered border with Haiti, because stopping essential goods such as food and medicine crossing the border would be dire for the country. While the DR accuses Haiti of violating the 1929 Treaty, they equally confirmed that the canal is being built by non-governmental agents, but still call on the government which is facing escalating gang warfare and a worsening humanitarian crisis, to halt the construction. Haiti has condemned the border shutdown and called on the Dominican Republic to safeguard Haitians in its country. The country has deported tens of thousands fleeing the crisis back to Haiti, despite repeated U.N. criticisms.
Elsewhere, Roman Catholic bishops across the country have called on political leaders and public leaders to stop supporting armed gangs that are terrorizing the nation. They asked current leaders to take concrete and strong actions today for true historical reconciliation. They demanded an end to the genocide being committed in Haiti. In a press release made public, the bishops remarked that the country is currently experiencing one of the longest and deadliest socio-political and security crises in its 200+ years history, characterized by unwarranted suffering of the people brought on by blind violence of heavily armed bandits, cynicism, and indifference of political leaders and a hesitation to intervene from the international community. They renewed their commitment to support efforts towards the peaceful resolution of the multidimensional crisis and ask those currently in power to take concrete steps to address them, all the while fashioning the political-social dialogue based on the real needs of the people. They decried how organized crime has spread to all departments and their dioceses and almost all major cities in the country. The metropolitan region of Port-au-Prince is almost entirely controlled by armed bandits, organized into gangs. In the Artibonite department, strategic points are abandoned to their terrorist actions. The population is taken hostage by the merciless violence of gangs and their allies, while the government watches without taking any actions, making them appear complicit in the crime spree. The bishops dare say that there’s a low-intensity war against the peaceful and unarmed population raging on in the country.
In recent weeks, armed gangs have carried out repeated attacks against several neighborhoods in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, including Carrefour Feuilles, Solino, Bon Repos, Lilavois, and Tabarre forcing thousands of families to abandon their homes. An unknown number of people were killed and injured during these armed attacks, under the helpless gaze of government authorities who are unable to do anything about it.
Finally, while PM Ariel Henry attends the UNGA in New York, his office has decreed that Wednesday September 20, 2023, will be declared Dessalines Day, a holiday on which all public offices, schools and businesses will be closed in observance of the day.
- More than 150 Haitians traveling on an unregistered and clandestine boat have been intercepted at sea near Turks and Caicos on Friday, September 15, 2023. They include 139 men and 17 women.
- * Heavy rains and strong winds are expected from Monday through Wednesday September 20th according to a report from the meteorological services, l’Unité hydrométéorologique d’Haïti (UHM). The departments that are most likely to be affected are the North, Northeast, the Center, Artibonite, Nippes, the West, Southwest and the Grand’Anse departments. Sudden flooding can be expected in the Northeast, Center, Artibonite, West and the Grand’Anse departments.