PORT-AU-PRINCE – AUGUST 21: People buying and selling stuffs in front of a collapsed building in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti on August 21 2010. (Shutterstock)
Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks to the Security Council briefing on Haiti, in New York today:
Thank you for the opportunity to make introductory remarks on the situation in Haiti, a country that remains a priority for the United Nations and, more personally, to the Secretary-General and I.
During my last visit to Haiti in February, I was encouraged by the nationally led efforts towards recovery. I saw strong efforts to rebuild after the tragic earthquake that struck the southern peninsula in 2021. I was encouraged by nationally led efforts towards recovery. And I was heartened by the solidarity of Haiti’s international partners. Efforts to eliminate cholera were yielding results. And there were high hopes that political negotiations would set a new course for stability and sustainable development.
But, at the end of 2022, Haiti is in a deepening crisis of unprecedented scale and complexity that is cause for serious alarm. Efforts to engage in dialogue continue to be made on the way forward. Insecurity has reached unprecedented levels and human rights abuses are widespread. Armed gangs have expanded their violent criminal activities, using killings and gang rapes to terrorize and subjugate communities.
Gang violence is paralyzing the country and obstructing the freedom of movement of people, of goods and humanitarian aid. It has fueled the resurgence of cholera, increased food insecurity to unimaginable levels, displaced 155,000 people and disrupted the education of thousands of children.
The Secretary-General and the whole United Nations, stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti during these extremely difficult times. Special Representative of the Secretary-General La Lime, His Excellency Ambassador Michel Xavier Biang and Kim Ives will brief you on the details of the situation unfolding before the eyes of the world.
Allow me, in these brief remarks, to draw attention to two aspects of the crisis. First, Port-au-Prince and the regions beyond are suffering the worst human rights and humanitarian emergency in decades. As always, vulnerable communities are suffering most. For example, 90 per cent of cholera cases are in areas already suffering high rates of severe acute malnutrition.
I condemn in the strongest terms the reports of widespread sexual violence by armed gangs. The harrowing accounts in the report issued two months ago by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are a call to action and accountability.
The United Nations will continue to provide a voice for women and girls living in communities that are controlled by gangs; to work to reduce their vulnerability to violence of all kinds; and to call for justice and accountability for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
Second, there is an urgent need for international support and solidarity. Now is certainly not the time for the world to turn away from Haiti. It is time to step up and turn the current crisis into an opportunity for Haiti to bounce back stronger.
I urge every country with the capacity to do so to give urgent consideration to the Haitian Government’s request for an international specialized armed force to help restore security and alleviate the humanitarian crisis. I have seen it on the ground. This is absolutely essential if Haiti is to return to institutional stability and get back on the road towards peace and sustainable development. I reiterate the Secretary-General’s call for international support to the Haitian National Police, as set out in his letter of 8 October.
Despite the end of the siege at the Varreux oil terminal, there is a continued need for solidarity and action from the international community. Haiti’s people, like people everywhere, have a right to go about their daily lives without the threat of kidnapping, rape or murder; to access basic and life-saving services; and to exercise their political and civil rights, including the right to vote in elections.
There are many other crises around the world. But, very few crises, if any, test our commitment and values like the one that we are witnessing in Haiti. It is a test of the common humanity that should be at the heart of international cooperation. It is a test of our solidarity with the people in deep suffering.
During my visit last February, I spoke with civil society, students, women and girls. Those conversations gave me hope. Now we need to help Haitians keep that hope alive, for today and for tomorrow.
There is clearly an urgent need to respond to the most immediate emergency. But, Haiti will also need international support to address the structural causes of this crisis and break the cycles that have constrained its development for so long. Inclusive, sustainable development is essential in its own right; it is also humanity’s ultimate crisis prevention tool.
The Secretary-General and I, and the entire United Nations, reaffirm our solidarity and commitment to stand with Haiti and its people, and to support the country’s recovery towards sustainable development, democracy, stability and peace. For this new year, I call for unity and solidarity in support of a solution to the crisis in Haiti, led by Haitians, and for all Haitians.