UN Security Council urges security help for Haiti to fight gangs


By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council on Friday encouraged countries to provide security support to Haiti, including through the deployment of a specialized force, which was last year requested by Haiti’s government to combat gang violence.

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres backed Haiti, proposing last year that one or more states send a “rapid action force” to support the Caribbean country as it struggles to combat violent gangs that have largely overrun the capital Port-au-Prince.

While there has been broad support for a rapid action force with several countries expressing interest in contributing, none has volunteered to lead a deployment, diplomats say.

The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Friday to renew for another 12-months the mandate for a U.N. political mission in Haiti. The resolution also backed the called for security support for the Haitian police.

The 15-member council “encourages Member States, including countries in the region, to provide security support to the Haitian National Police … including through the deployment of a specialized force.”

It also asked Guterres to submit a report to the council within 30 days, in consultation with Haiti, outlining the full range of U.N. support options including “support for a non-U.N. multinational force, or a possible peacekeeping operation.”

In October last year, Guterres did not suggest that a force be deployed by the United Nations.

U.N. peacekeepers were deployed to Haiti in 2004 after a rebellion led to the ouster and exile of then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Peacekeeping troops left in 2017 and were replaced by U.N. police, who departed in 2019.

Countries have been wary of supporting the unelected administration of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has said fair elections cannot be held under the current insecurity. Haiti has been without any elected representatives since January.

Henry, who took power in July 2021 days after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, has pledged to leave office by Feb. 7, 2024, after repeatedly postponing elections citing first an August 2021 earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people, and then the gang violence.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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