By: Christopher Morris

TRUENEWSBLOG – The United States Department of State says Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations Anne Witkowsky will travel to Haiti for talks with senior Haitian officials and “a variety of Haitian stakeholders.”

On Friday, the State Department said Witkowsky would visit the French-speaking Caribbean country March 7-9 to meet with Prime Minister Ariel Henry and members of the Montana Group “in support of an inclusive, Haitian-led political dialogue.”

The assistant secretary will also meet “a variety of Haitian stakeholders” — including civil society and women leaders — “to reaffirm the U.S. government’s long-term commitment to the Haitian people in promoting long-term stability and development, and to discuss U.S. support.” for Haitian solutions to problems facing the country”.

The Deputy Secretary will also highlight the United States’ continued support for security sector capacity building with Haitian officials and civil society representatives, and reaffirm our commitment to a Haitian-led restoration of democratic institutions,” the statement said.

It also said Witkowsky will mark International Women’s Day with United Nations staff and Haitian women leaders “to recognize the critical role of women in conflict resolution and in the economy and the US government’s commitment to strengthening gender equality and… to affirm the meaningful inclusion of women as equal partners in economic, political and security decision-making”.

Last month, United Nations Special Envoy in Haiti Helen La Lime said that despite some signs of progress in ending the political, economic and humanitarian crisis that has been worsening across Haiti since the President’s assassination last year, the The situation there remains “tense and highly polarised”.

La Lime, who also heads the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), told the UN Security Council that structural reforms are needed to tackle gang violence, tackle impunity and corruption, strengthen the judicial system and make the Haitian economy sustainable to change.

“The contours of a common vision shared by all will ultimately depend on Haitian stakeholders who put the national interest ahead of their own aspirations,” she said. “Success will be determined by their collective willingness to compromise.”

The special envoy said the relative calm observed on February 7 – the date on which the late President Jovenel Moïse’s term would have officially ended – was a good sign and informed the ambassadors that the new government unveiled on November 24 apparently eased tensions.

And as he awaits a revised election calendar, the BINUH chief noted that momentum appears to be building around “an inclusive, credible and effective interim electoral council.”

Meanwhile, La Lime said gang violence “continues to plunge major urban centers into lawlessness and grief.”

“Criminal armed groups have a firm grip on the economic and social lives of millions,” she said. “Their indiscriminate use of kidnapping, murder, and sexual and gender-based violence as a means to terrorize local populations in their struggle to expand their territorial control is particularly despicable.”

La Lime said that although the Haitian National Police have tried to stem the tide of violent crime, the “overwhelmed, under-staffed and under-resourced police force alone cannot stem the alarming rise in gang-bred insecurity.”

Against this background, the United Nations and the Haitian government have jointly decided to increase international support, embodied in the forthcoming establishment of a multi-donor basket fund.

“The gang phenomenon cannot be addressed through policing alone,” La Lime said, addressing the need for a law enforcement approach that includes greater control of illegal weapons and is complemented by socio-economic projects and reintegration activities “aimed at creating jobs and revenue.” in the neighborhoods hardest hit by the scourge of gang violence.”

The UN official commended the Haitian authorities for a national strategy to reduce community violence that has led to the reopening of several schools in Port-au-Prince’s Cité Soleil and La Saline neighborhoods after years of closure.

These achievements give hope that determined and coordinated government action will lead to the delivery of additional essential services in these communities as well as their expansion to other areas,” she said. “Our continued support is critical to the success of this effort.”

La Lime said Haiti also urgently needs to address the persistent phenomenon of impunity.

She cited the 2020 killing of Monferrier Dorval, the 2018 La Saline massacre and the “horrific assassination” of President Moïse, whose stalled murder investigation has “raised both suspicion and distrust in the country”.

The Haitian judicial system suffers from “serious structural weaknesses,” she said, which impair the courts’ ability to “investigate, process and hear cases.”

La Lime said while modest signs of progress are encouraging, more action is needed for new penal and penal codes and to ensure judicial reform can be sustained over the longer term.

She said last August’s devastating earthquake that destroyed parts of the southern peninsula and killed 2,248 people added another layer of difficulty to an already dire humanitarian situation.

“It is now estimated that 4.9 million people, or 43 percent of the country’s population, will be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2022,” La Lime said.

She called on all Haitian leaders to work together constructively to lead the country to elections and emerge from the “acute political and institutional crisis” into which it has fallen.

In addition, the envoy called on the international community to continue working with the Haitian government and others to create security and political conditions for holding national elections and ensure structural reforms.

“Now is not the time to let Haiti off the agenda,” she said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *