Haiti humanitarian crisis and deployment of multinational force - OCHA
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Edited News | OCHA

Haiti humanitarian crisis and deployment of multi-national force - OCHA

Haiti humanitarian crisis deepens as country awaits support mission

As Haiti faces a situation of “absolute brutal violence”, the deployment of a multi-national security support mission is awaited with hope, the UN’s top humanitarian official in the country said on Friday.

“For many Haitians, daily life is a matter of life and death”, Ulrika Richardson, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the country said. Talking to reporters in Geneva, she painted a grim picture of current conditions in the small Caribbean state, which has had no president since its last one, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in 2021.

“Many Haitians go to great risk of just leaving their house, going about a normal life, risking being caught in a line of fire, being kidnapped, lynched, or raped,” Ms. Richardson said. In the first 11 months of 2023, the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) registered 8,000 killings, lynchings, kidnappings and rape, often collective rape also targeting young girls.

 

An estimated 300 gangs operate in Haiti, with the largest groups controlling up to 80 per cent of the capital. Sprawling gang violence is spreading beyond Port-au-Prince to previously peaceful areas in Haiti’s central and northwest regions, particularly to the Artibonite Department, which used to be the breadbasket of Haiti. The country used to produce all its food and even export some. It now struggles with increasing food insecurity amid skyrocketing inflation.

 

Two out of five Haitians face acute food insecurity

 

In the country of 12 million people, “5.2 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. 4.35 million Haitian face acute food insecurity, and that's a staggering figure,” Ms. Richardson emphasized. “It is two out of five Haitians that face acute food insecurity.”

Murders, looting, kidnappings and widespread sexual violence have also fueled mass displacement.  “We have 200,000 [displaced people] in the country, 143,000 in the capital alone, which is, of course, a very large number,” Ms. Richardson stressed.

 

Needs have soared but funding for aid remains scarce. Ms. Richardson said that the 2023 humanitarian response plan for Haiti is only 33 per cent funded as the year draws to a close.

 

Hopes are now focused on the deployment of a multinational security support mission to Haiti as per resolution 2699 adopted by the UN Security Council last October. Kenya has agreed to lead this multinational armed force and pledged 1,000 police officers. Its deployment, potentially as soon as the first quarter of 2024, awaits a green light from the Kenyan high court.

 

“We have to really approach this with a comprehensive plan to assist Haiti, to accompany Haiti to the return of state institutions, state control in many of these areas where the state is not present. Reinstate basic services, including water and sanitation, health and education, but also looking at the justice system and the correction system,” Ms. Richardson said.

 

Prisons in Haiti are up to three times over capacity, with most inmates awaiting trial.

The support mission to shore up the Haitian National Police is intended to help reestablish security in the country in order to create the conditions for holding free and fair elections.

“We consider it will take between 12 and 18 months to organize an election. Obviously, we must stabilize the situation of violence,”  Ms. Richardson concluded.

 

Ends

SHOTLIST

 

  1. Exterior wide shot: UN flag alley UN Geneva.
  2. Cutaway: wide shot, press room, UN Geneva.
  3. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Ulrika Richardson, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and Resident Coordinator in Haiti: “For many Haitians, daily life is not only a striking struggle to find food to put on the table for their families but is also a matter of life and death. Many go to great risk of just leaving their house, going about a normal life, risking being caught in a line of fire, risk being kidnaped, risk being lynched, risk being raped. And very often that happens. In fact, we have seen just in these first 11 months of 2023, we've seen 8000 killings, lynchings, kidnappings and rape, very often collective rape, often targeting, of course, women, but also young girls.”
  4. Cutaway: wide shot, press room with journalists, UN Geneva.
  5. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Ulrika Richardson, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and Resident Coordinator in Haiti: “Haiti, in fact, is spiraling into a very serious we can call it a human rights crisis. We can call it a protection crisis. Overall, simply to say that it's a multi-dimensional crisis. In fact, it has an impact on, of course, the humanitarian situation. We have, in fact, 5.2 million Haitians today that are in need of humanitarian assistance. We have 4.35 million people that face acute food insecurity, and that's a staggering figure. It is two out of five Haitians that face acute food insecurity.”
  6. Cutaway: close up shot of journalist in the press room, UN Geneva.
  7. SOUNDBTE (ENGLISH) Ulrika Richardson, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and Resident Coordinator in Haiti“This has created also a rapid acceleration in terms of displaced people. We have 200,000 in the country, 143,000 in the capital alone, which is, of course, a very large number. In fact, when we look at the capital, it is the most affected by the gang violence. We consider that about 80 per cent of the capital is controlled by, or influenced by, these gangs. We also consider that there is around 300 gangs in the country.”
  8. Cutaway: wide shot, press room with journalists, UN Geneva.
  9. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Ulrika Richardson, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and Resident Coordinator in Haiti“We also have this sensation of hope and that things are possible. In fact, a great frustration for the UN family and also for the humanitarian community in Haiti is that we don't have sufficient funding. We are now up to 33 per cent in terms of funding for our humanitarian response plan of this year.”
  10. Cutaway: wide shot, press room with journalists, UN Geneva.
  11. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Ulrika Richardson, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and Resident Coordinator in Haiti“We have to really approach this with a comprehensive plan to assist Haiti, to accompany Haiti to the return of state institutions, state control in many of these areas where the state is not present. Reinstate basic services, including water and sanitation, health and education, of course, but also looking at the justice system and the correction system.”
  12. Cutaway: medium shot, press room with journalists, UN Geneva.
  13. SOUNDBITE (FRENCH) Ulrika Richardson, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) and Resident Coordinator in Haiti“On estime que ça va prendre entre 12 et 18 mois pour organiser une élection. Et donc évidemment, Il faut stabiliser la situation de violence.” (Translation in English: We consider it will take between 12 and 18 months to organize an election. Obviously, we must stabilize the situation of violence.”)
  14. Various shots of press conference room, UN Geneva.


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