Canada, US, Allies Talk Aid for Haiti 01/22 09:21
Haiti's spiraling insecurity and growing concerns about its ability to hold
general elections following the killing of President Jovenel Mose prompted two
dozen international senior officials to meet Friday and agree to increase aid.
TORONTO (AP) -- Haiti's spiraling insecurity and growing concerns about its
ability to hold general elections following the killing of President Jovenel
Mose prompted two dozen international senior officials to meet Friday and
agree to increase aid.
Canada, which hosted the more than three-hour-long meeting with
representatives from countries including the U.S., France and Mexico as well as
U.N. officials, pledged $39 million in aid while other countries promised to
improve Haiti's security situation so it could hold successful elections. They
also committed to bolstering Haiti's National Police as violence spikes and
gangs become more powerful, with more than 20,000 Haitians forced to live in
unhygienic shelters amid the pandemic after losing their homes in recent months
to gang turf battles.
"The increase in violence is only worsening the already precarious
humanitarian situation," said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of
the meeting, which was behind closed doors. "We must work together to restore
stability, and to protect the safety and well-being of the Haitian people."
Representatives of 19 countries took part, including Haitian Prime Minister
Ariel Henry, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and French Foreign
Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
"In order to tackle insecurity, the partners agreed to strengthen their
current and future support of the security sector, including the Haitian
National Police, with a focus on respect for the rule of law, justice and human
rights," the office of Canadian Foreign Minister Mlanie Joly said in a
statement after the meeting.
Joly said all stakeholders in Haiti need to work together and "that without
such an agreement, re-establishing security will remain a challenge, as will
the holding of free and credible elections."
Henry, Haiti's prime minister, said he expects to have a provisional
electoral council in place in upcoming days and has pledged to hold elections
this year, although he has not provided a date. He thanked the international
community for helping Haiti during "a particularly trying time" and noted that
violence was considerably disrupting everyday life and isolating several cities
and towns in the southern part of the country, cutting off much needed aid.
"There is an urgent need to address these problems and find lasting
solutions," he tweeted during the meeting. "I am convinced that the root cause
of such a situation lies mainly in the abject poverty in which a significant
part of our population lives."
Haiti is a country of 11 million inhabitants where about 60% earn less than
$2 a day, and it is facing a deepening economic crisis, with inflation spiking
and an estimated 4.4 million people at risk of hunger. It is also struggling to
recover from the July 7 assassination of Mose at his private residence and a
7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck last August, killing more than 2,200
people and destroying or damaging some 137,500 homes.
Mose's killing complicated an already fragile political situation in Haiti.
He had been ruling by decree for more than a year after dissolving a
majority of Parliament in January 2020 amid a delay in legislative elections
that have yet to be held, with only 10 senators currently in power.
Opponents, meanwhile, claimed that Mose's own term should have ended in
February 2021, while he insisted it should continue to Feb. 7 this year -- the
fifth anniversary of his inauguration, which had been delayed by controversy
over his election.
Some worry Haiti's instability will deepen in early February when the term
of the slain president expires. Shortly before his death, Mose had tapped
Henry to serve as prime minister and many observers think that Henry's term
should end on Feb. 7 as well, though he is not expected to step aside on that
An official that attended the meeting said there was no discussion about
possible foreign intervention or about the confidence that ministers might have
in Henry's ability to govern.
Many parts of Haitian civil society are calling for accords that would allow
for a consensual leadership of the country while it waits to renew its
institutions through elections -- though various factions differ on what the
accord should contain.
Jean Victor Gnus, Haiti's foreign affairs minister, met with reporters in
Haiti after the meeting and praised the offers of help from the international
community, saying that a stabilized Haiti also would attract investors.