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UN chief calls for ‘enhanced security support’ for Haiti, as crisis worsens; cholera deaths mount

Deserted streets in the centre of Port-au-Prince (file)
JOA/Yes Communication Design
Deserted streets in the centre of Port-au-Prince (file)

UN chief calls for ‘enhanced security support’ for Haiti, as crisis worsens; cholera deaths mount

Peace and Security

Amid a deteriorating security situation in Haiti, UN Security-General António Guterres called on Sunday for the Security Council to consider deploying armed forces to help the country address immense humanitarian concerns.

In a statement, Mr. Guterres announced that he has submitted a letter to the Council, containing options for enhanced security support to Haiti.

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The move by the UN chief comes a week after Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry sent out a request to the international community, for a “specialized armed force” to intervene in a country which has effectively ground to a halt.

in a statement released on Saturday, the US Government State Department said that it was reviewing the Haitian Government’s request, in coordination with international partners, to “determine how we can increase our support to help address Haiti’s fuel shortage and security constraints.” However, the composition of such an armed force has, so far, not been specified, and no commitments to send troops have been made by any UN Member States.

Last month, gangs blockaded the Verreux fuel terminal, Haiti’s main fuel port, leading to major gas and diesel shortages, and causing businesses and hospitals to shut down.

'Cataclysmic' despair

Potable water supplies have also been impacted, at a time when Haitians are facing a cholera outbreak, following three years without any cases. The outbreak prompted Martin Griffiths, the UN’s humanitarian relief chief, to call on Saturday for emergency life-saving assistance funding, and warn that, if the spread of the disease is left unchecked, it could lead to “cataclysmic levels of despair for the people of Haiti.”

In his statement, the UN Secretary-General implored Haitians to “rise above their differences and to engage, without further delay, in a peaceful and inclusive dialogue on a constructive way forward.”

Mr. Guterres promised that the United Nations stands by the people of Haiti and that it will “support efforts to build consensus, reduce violence and promote stability in the country”.

Cholera cases grow: 16 confirmed deaths

Cholera cases are continue to grow amid the worsening insecurity. On Monday, the UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, said that as of Sunday, there were 32 confirmed cases, 224 suspected, and 16 confirmed deaths.

 “Despite access and logistical challenges, we and our humanitarian partners are supporting the Ministry of Health on the cholera response”, said the UN Spokesperson. “More than 43 health facilities around Port-au-Prince and the Centre region have been identified and will be used to treat cholera patients.”

Twelve health facilities are currently receiving patients for treatment, while water points have been installed and water and sanitation teams have begun to do training and chlorination interventions.

Risk Communication and Community Engagement efforts are ongoing, said Mr. Dujarric, and currently target one million people a day with text messages in creole.

National prison alert

Cases have also been identified in the national prison in Port-au-Prince. As of yesterday, according to the authorities, there were 2 confirmed, with nine deaths and 39 suspected cases of cholera.

The national authorities are investigating the situation to identify the source, the UN Spokesperson told correspondents in New York, and they have been mounting an urgent response.

“The UN system has provided the national prison authority with an ad hoc protocol to prevent and minimize, as much as possible, the outbreak and its implications.”