Statement by Special Representative Helen La Lime, Security Council Session on the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), October 4, 2021 – Haiti
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Board,
1. It is an honor to once again update you on the situation in Haiti, which is currently going through one of the most difficult periods in its recent history. Already shaken by the terrible assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7, the country was struck on August 14 by a devastating earthquake that affected more than 800,000 people in its southwestern peninsula. These two events led to a further postponement of the long-awaited national and local elections. Meanwhile, insecurity has become endemic in Port-au-Prince, as kidnappings are on the rise again and gangs have extended their control over large swathes of the city. In addition, thousands of migrants who had sought better living conditions in neighboring countries are being repatriated. For most observers, it is difficult to envision an end to the country’s seemingly endless crises that have pushed the resilience of the Haitian people to the brink of collapse.
2. Since taking office on July 20, Prime Minister Ariel Henry has spared no effort to reach a political agreement with the various factions of the Haitian regime. Adopting an inclusive and consensual approach, he sought to create minimum conditions for the holding of legislative, local and presidential elections, and thus guide a country in the midst of a governance crisis towards the regular functioning of its democratic institutions. To a positive extent, actors from across the political spectrum and civil society organizations, including former opposition and ruling coalition groups, signed on to such a deal on September 11. The pact captures the main demands expressed by national stakeholders, such as the formation of a new Provisional Electoral Council and the inclusion of the diaspora. It also provides for elections to be held no later than the second half of 2022.
3. One can only hope that Haitian political and civil society leaders will continue to work together to find common ground around a common project that will help foster a more peaceful climate in which decisive action can be taken and essential reforms implemented.
4. Of course, there are many points of convergence. For example, there is a broad national consensus on the need to reform Haiti’s 1987 constitution, a charter widely seen as contributing to recurring political and institutional instability. The draft Constitution submitted by the Independent Advisory Committee to the Prime Minister on September 8 should serve as the basis for a more constructive and inclusive debate on how to reshape the Haitian political system.
5. Likewise, the restoration of security, particularly in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, must be a priority for the Haitian authorities. Since June, a significant and sudden increase in gang violence has caused the displacement of some 19,000 people from the municipalities of Cité-Soleil, Croix-des-Bouquets, Delmas and the Port-au-Prince district of Martissant. Gang control around the capital’s strategic entry and exit points has had a negative impact on Haiti’s economy and the movement of people and goods. Applying the recommendations of a team of UN police experts deployed from May to July following a request from the late President, the Haitian National Police sought to improve the effectiveness of its anti-gang operations. adopting a more balanced approach to prevention and law enforcement, relying on an increased police presence in problem areas and improving its intelligence gathering mechanisms.
6. Yet an overburdened and underfunded force alone cannot stem this disturbing increase in crime. Haiti’s main security institution will not be able to achieve lasting results unless its capacity is strengthened and government services are moved back to poor neighborhoods that serve as fertile ground for armed gangs. Therefore, in addition to continuing its police reform efforts with the support of the United Nations and bilateral partners, the Government must implement a more comprehensive approach to combating gang violence, within the framework of the National Community Violence Reduction Strategy which was developed with UN support and approved on July 5.
7. Haitian citizens unanimously condemned the horrific death of President Moïse and called for a full investigation into his assassination – an investigation that respects due process and the rule of law. For the veil of impunity that has long enveloped Haiti to begin to lift, and for justice to prevail in this case as well as in several emblematic cases, judicial actors must be able to work independently, in a peaceful environment, with the ‘assurance that they will be protected while undertaking the delicate task of identifying and prosecuting perpetrators.
8. The Haitian justice system also continues to face the protracted challenge of pre-trial detention which affects 82 percent of the country’s detainees, among the highest rates in the world. National authorities must redouble their efforts to urgently tackle this issue, in close consultation with all judicial actors. In addition, it is imperative that the process of revising the new codes of penal and penal procedure continues because, once promulgated, they will be essential to fight against pre-trial detention as well as to harmonize Haitian law with regional and international standards of human rights.
Distinguished members of the Council,
9. The August 14 earthquake added a new layer of complexity to an already dire humanitarian situation. Faced with the latest disaster that befell the country, the UN reiterates its support to the Government and people of Haiti and salutes the active national leadership and coordination of the response and post-disaster recovery.
ten. Even though relief operations are still ongoing, early recovery and restoration of livelihoods need to be strongly supported in the areas affected by the earthquake. It is a race against time to ensure that children can return to school, that farmers do not miss the next planting season and that people currently living in camps for the spontaneous return to their homes the most. quickly possible. We must ensure that Haiti does not become a forgotten crisis. I urge all Member States to contribute to the $ 187.3 million flash appeal launched on August 25 to address the needs of those affected by the earthquake as well as the 2021-2022 humanitarian response plan of 235.6 million, which is currently only about a third funded. In addition, in the long term, the reconstruction process will require the full commitment of the Haitian Government as well as the international community, to ensure a greener, more resilient and more inclusive recovery.
11. Likewise, while the United Nations and its partners have worked closely with the government of Haiti to ensure that it responds effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic, greater cooperation will be needed to maintain and scale up testing capabilities as well as to promote public health and social action. . With only some 60,000 vaccines administered to date and less than one percent of the country’s eligible population inoculated, increasing immunization in the weeks and months to come will prove vital to protect Haiti and its populations. more vulnerable against COVID-19 and the threat of more transmissible variants.
12. The current situation Haiti finds itself in can only be described as grim. Nonetheless, there are encouraging signs that only reinforce my belief that, through urgent, determined and concerted action, Haitian citizens can address the deep structural challenges, as well as the governance and development deficits, that fuel the country. instability, insecurity and more and more of their country. growing humanitarian needs. Alongside the United Nations, the entire international community must continue to stand resolutely alongside the Haitian people and their government as they strive to chart the course towards stability, security and sustainable development.