Antigua and Barbuda has called upon the Organisation of American States (OAS) to take swift and decisive action concerning the steadily deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Haiti.
Addressing the OAS Permanent Council last Friday, senior Antiguan and Barbudan diplomat, Sir Ronald Sanders impressed upon his colleagues the dire circumstances in which the people of Haiti now find themselves.
“The situation in Haiti is grave,” Sir Ronald said. “The activities of more than 200 gangs and their control of large parts of Haiti, including more than 60 per cent of the Capital, their utter contempt for the rule of law, and what amounts to their reign of terror cannot be tolerated by any of our member states.
“Action must be taken urgently to address the situation.”
While Haiti has a long and sad history of hardship as a result of crises triggered by natural disasters, outbreaks of disease and political upheavals, the relative stability the country embraced in recent years was shattered with the brutal assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on 7th July, 2021.
Since then, the country has battled not just with political upheaval as new elections have not yet been held, but also an outbreak of cholera which has further weakened the country’s already fractured systems and depleted its scant resources.
Five million people in Haiti currently experience food insecurity; reported kidnappings soared to more than 1,200 last year, more than double the number in 2021; and there were 2,200 homicides in 2022.
Despite the intervention of friendly nations, both within the Caribbean region and globally, Sir Ronald said Haiti and the Haitian people themselves must take a stand to rescue their nation from further disaster.
“We are also concerned that the authorities in Haiti – and other parties – have not been able to achieve the unity of purpose and common cause that Haiti urgently needs,” said Sir Ronald in his address.
He continued, “While my delegation welcomes the Accord, which was signed on December 21st, 2022, by representatives of the Haitian governments and some representatives of the private sector, political parties and civil society, for an “Inclusive Transition and Transparent Elections”, we are troubled that the process is not inclusionary enough.”
This political unrest and a dysfunctional judiciary has given strength to the country’s criminal underground and the rise of gang activity, but Ambassador Sanders raised alarming concerns which, if true, could spell more trouble for Haiti and its people.
“We are troubled by reports of collaboration between some politicians and members of the private sector with some of the criminal gangs.
If, indeed, these reports are true, they do not bode well for a swift end to the rule of crime and terror that now overwhelms the country, especially its law enforcement agencies,” Sir Ronald said.
Ambassador Sanders recommitted Antigua and Barbuda’s support of Haiti through this crisis, but added that for progress to be made and order restored, the Haitian people must take action.
“Friendly governments can help, but Haitians must do the necessary and constructive work,” he said.
To this end, a recently passed Resolution tabled during the Permanent Council’s meeting outlined several measures that OAS member nations will take in support of Haiti.
“We will establish a Working Group which, with the assistance of the General Secretariat, will convene a Security, Humanitarian, Electoral, and Democracy Assistance Dialogue with the participation of the Government of Haiti and the High-Level Transition Council that was recently established in Haiti.
“The purpose will be to gather information, on the priority assistance that is required, so that each of our member states and permanent observer countries, could determine how best each can help to enable, and ensure, inclusive participation of Haitian stakeholders in arrangements for free, fair and credible elections and democratic transition in Haiti,” Ambassador Sanders outlined.