Crisis in Haiti: Experts say Haitians Waiting for International Support

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Haiti is in a catastrophic situation. Bill O’Neill, an expert on the human rights situation in Haiti, estimates more than 400-thousand people are displaced. The gangs have dominated almost every aspect of people’s lives. The violence has contributed to a staggering rise in kidnappings, killings and sexual violence. A culmination of issues has destabilized the country. 

Hait’s unpopular and unelected acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced he will step down but does not welcome the international community’s effort to create a transitional council. One of Haiti’s most powerful gang leaders, that goes by the moniker ‘Barbeque’ told reporters Haitians should decide who is going to be the head of the country and what model of government they want.  

“The gangs, unless they’re faced with something more powerful than they are, they will keep doing the horrible, horrible things to their own people,” said O’Neill. “It’s a real tragedy.” 

O’Neill said regaining control of Haiti is in the works but it’s complicated. The UN and other agencies are working together to find solutions to curb the violence.  

“They’re doing all kinds of things,” said O’Neill. “There’s a police section and they’re not armed. They don’t have police powers but international UN who are working side by side with the Haitian national police who are the first line of defense against the gangs. The problem is they’re overwhelmed. There’s not a single gun or bullet manufactured in Haiti most of them come from the United States. Most of them directly from the port of Miami. A big chunk of them comes from Jamaica or the Dominican Republic.” 

Back in October, the United Nations Security Council approved moving forward with a multinational security support (MSS) mission in Haiti. Kenya announced they will lead the MSS mission but so far, no additional forces have been sent. O’Neill said complicated issues within the Kenyan government and a lack of funding have been the two biggest hurdles for sending help to Haiti.  

About a week ago, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced an additional one-hundred million to finance the MSS force to Haiti after meeting with Caribbean leaders.  

O’Neill worries time is running out to move forward with this MSS to Haiti. He said the UN only authorized the mission for a year. Half of that authorization so far has already passed, leaving little time left for the mission to Haiti.   

“It’s very frustrating,” said O’Neill. “Because every Haitian I talk to when I was in Haiti, the last time which was October/November said ‘when are they coming?’ The people in the gang-controlled areas are desperate and totally support having this international force come and help them because they know even though the Haitian national police even though they’re willing and trying but they don’t have the capacity the numbers or the firepower to do it by themselves.”