Haiti security situation 'nightmarish': UN chief

Haitian migrants
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The deterioration of Haiti's security and health environment as gangs expand their control has produced "an absolutely nightmarish situation" for local people, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday.

Speaking before the Security Council reviews a proposal to send an international peacekeeping force to the Caribbean island, Guterres said the gangs' control of the port and blockade on fuel distribution has exacerbated other crises.

Without fuel, he said, water cannot be distributed, making the new outbreak of cholera worse.

"The most important treatment for cholera is hydration, and there is no water available in the city," Guterres told reporters.

Guterres said there was need for an "armed" intervention in support of the Haitian police to open up the port to create a humanitarian corridor for delivery of aid.

"I'm talking of something to be done based on strict humanitarian criteria, independent of the political dimensions of the problem that needs to be solved by the Haitians themselves," Guterres said.

The Varreaux fuel terminal in Port-au-Prince has been blocked by armed gangs since mid-September, paralyzing the country.

This has led to requests from the government for outside help. In a recent letter Guterres asked the UN Security Council to consider calling for an international force in the face of a humanitarian crisis.

But the proposal sparked a protest by thousands of Haitians against the government's appeal for foreign assistance.

The Security Council was to debate the situation Monday afternoon.

According to a draft resolution obtained by AFP, which was still under discussion, the council could urge UN member states to weigh the immediate deployment of a "multinational rapid action force" to support the Haitian police.

The text focuses on implementing an "arms embargo" targeting certain groups and individuals.

It also proposes an asset freeze and travel ban on people and entities tied to the armed gangs and criminal networks.

The only specific mention was of Jimmy Cherizier, nicknamed "Barbecue," the powerful leader of the "G9 Family and Allies" group of gangs which has blocked the Varreaux terminal.

Separately, according to Guterres' spokesman, the resurgence of cholera in the country after three years has produced as of Monday 66 confirmed cases, 564 suspected cases, and 22 deaths, mainly in Port-au-Prince.

© 2022 AFP

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