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EDITORIAL: Time to revisit plans for Haiti help

IF there was a plan to restore order to Haiti, then it is time to go back to the drawing board.

Until recently, there may have seemed an absence of urgency, but there did at least seem to be a plan.

A multinational force led by Kenyan police officers would assist Haitian police to bring order to a country overrun by gangs.

Fast forward to today.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry left the country – with Kenya among his destinations as he sought to shore up that support – only for gangs to attack the airport and ports in his absence.

Such was the state of affairs that Mr Henry could not re-enter the country, and he has now offered his resignation as Prime Minister.

Mr Henry struggled to have any kind of mandate having been appointed and never having won an election, but he was the last remnant of official authority in a country which has not a single elected representative left.

With Mr Henry gone, the next piece of news came out of Kenya. Already with the plan to deploy police officers entangled in the courts because of a constitutional challenge over whether police could serve outside the country, the news of Mr Henry’s resignation has led to Kenya to halt its plans for intervention. After all, the man had been the one to call for the multinational force in the first place, and agreements clearing the path for deployment had been signed on March 1 between the two countries. With him in place, who did Kenya have an agreement with? One can hardly blame them for wanting to know on whose behalf they would be intervening.

The damage to vessels and containers at the ports in Haiti meanwhile have led some insurers to categorise the state of affairs as civil disruption. Some port services have ceased indefinitely, while armed intruders breached the Port-au-Prince warehouse area and looted the site.

German company Hapag-Lloyd has announced a booking restriction for cargo destined for Port-au-Prince.

If things were bad before in Haiti, the flow of goods being halted is going to do nothing to improve people’s lives – albeit the shipping companies cannot be blamed for not wanting to sail into a situation with no security and little guarantee of being able to sail away again safely.

One shipping manager told the Associated Press: “Everything has stopped. Medical supplies, food cannot come to Port-au-Prince. Right now nothing can enter by sea, by air or by road. It’s a disaster. Hunger will be the next step.”

Haiti – like The Bahamas – is a heavy importer of its goods, especially food and medical supplies. Cutting off those imports is an invitation to famine and disease.

For The Bahamas, presumably the troops that had been promised as part of the initiative led by Kenya will now remain right here at home. They were promised to a mission that no longer exists, at least in the form it was envisioned.

The need for a solution to Haiti’s situation has not disappeared with the end of that plan, of course. In fact, the country’s need has intensified, not diminished.

We are already faced with a neighbour that has no leadership, that is largely controlled by gang members, that has recently seen 4,000 prisoners freed when jails were laid siege to, and where the police were already fighting what seemed a losing battle – understaffed, underequipped and overwhelmed.

Add to that the prospect of starvation as supply chains are cut off, and no sign of any political solution that will lead to free elections and a leadership with a genuine mandate, and we can see that we are on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.

Many will try to flee that cauldron of despair – and that may well mean more migrants seeking to reach our shores.

What is the solution to all this? That’s a simple question with no easy answers.

Certainly, urgency is needed, but wisdom too.

Haiti needs a future. One that fits the needs of its people, and one that can be abiding for many years to come. It is not just a problem for Haiti, it is a regional disaster.

Comments

birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

The situation is extremely difficult who has the answers all kinds of different stories they do not want peace keeping forces they say they caused rapes and cholera. What is the truth Many lives may be lost on the gangs side and the innocent people there seem to be millions of gangs. Barbecue what is to be done with him I am afraid the gangs will come to the Bahamas and cause trouble here

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birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

The Bahamians who say the USA sending aid to Ukrain must know the situation is different to whom will they send the aid to.. the people running a children's home left Haiti To much confusion and risk of life involved

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SP 2 months, 1 week ago

Haiti desperately needed a total reset.The situation in Haiti is the result of decades of endemic and systemic corruption.

Gang leader "barbecue" is doing the right thing. Only by forcibly removing ALL corrupt politicians and starting a-fresh with a whole new slate of people with no political affiliations can Haiti restructure itself to benefit the people.

They need to kick the thieving US and Canada out of their gold mines and keep them away from their oil reserves.

The Bahamas needs the exact same medicine to rid ourselves of the PLP and FNM 50 year reign of endemic and systemic corruption that only benefits the elites and political classes.

Congratulations Haiti. Keep doing what you’re doing!!

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sheeprunner12 2 months, 1 week ago

This is a United Nations matter ............ Not 242, CARICOM or other regional body.

Notice how quiet the DR and Cuba are on the matter ......... and they have more resources and are closest to Haiti.

And what about the FIVE million Haitians who live outside of Haiti???? What are they doing to help the motherland??? .......... Biden's PR lady boss is a Haitian and she has little to say.

But, will the UN take up the challenge?????????? Based on past experience, probably not.

The G9 and the other gang leaders have to get together and rule Haiti now ...........

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