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Caricom ‘gravely concerned’ about Haiti


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Caricom ‘gravely concerned’ about Haiti
People carry containers with water amid water shortages due to daily protests against high gasoline prices and crime in Haiti - Reuters

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Georgetown – Caricom said on Monday it was “gravely concerned” by the continuing deterioration of the security situation and the social circumstances in Haiti, one of its member countries.

The 15-member regional integration grouping said that the unrest was having a negative impact on the already weak economy leading to even more mass demonstrations.

In a statement, Caricom said it was especially concerned about the worsening social conditions and the limited availability of food, which need urgent and immediate attention from the international community.

“The continued breakdown in law and order, and its distressing effect on the people of Haiti, is intensifying,” the Caricom statement read. “The fraught situation is exacerbated by the inability of the Haitian security forces to address the ongoing violence.

“This persistently distressing situation is untenable, and CARICOM calls for all stakeholders to engage meaningfully with the aim to find a way forward and to put country first and address the situation urgently.”

The Caricom statement added that following discussions in the past weeks, it was available to assist and work with international partners to mobilise financial and technical resources to facilitate a process towards normalisation, and ultimately the holding of free, fair and credible general elections.

Last month, Caricom leaders who were in Trinidad & Tobago for the second regional Agri-Investment and Forum Expo11, held a special meeting on the situation in Haiti, where crime and political instability are seriously affecting the socio-economic development of the French-speaking  country.

On Monday, the United States, acknowledging that the right to gather and protest is fundamental in any democracy, says it remains “a steadfast partner” to Haiti and also committed “to supporting the Haitian people during this challenging time”.

In a statement, the United States also condemned the acts of violence, looting, and destruction that have recently occurred in Haiti and those who instigated these events for their own ends.

“We call on Haitians to express their views in a peaceful manner that respects humanitarian actors and law enforcement and allows unfettered access to Haitians in need in order to provide food, water, and medical care,” the statement from the U.S. embassy stated.

Washington said international partners and organisations had mobilised more than U.S. $294 million in new commitments for Haiti since December, but  additional support is urgently needed, including contributions to the UN Security Basket Fund recently established by Canada.

“We continue to encourage Haitian interlocutors to reach agreement on an inclusive political accord that will allow elections to take place as soon as conditions permit,” the US Embassy statement added.

“Haitians throughout the country and across the social spectrum need to create the conditions that will allow a democratically elected government to take office as soon as possible.”

Criminal and political activities have increased on the island since President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7 last year at his private residence.

People have taken to the streets demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Dr Avriel Henry, as well as calling for lower prices and urging the authorities to deal with the number of kidnappings for ransom and rival gang warfare.