Caribbean leaders call a emergency meeting Monday on Haiti, calling the situation there 'dire'

Caribbean leaders have called for an emergency meeting in Jamaica with the United States, Canada and France on Monday to seek a way out of spiraling gang violence in Haiti

Bert Wilkinson
Saturday 09 March 2024 15:50 GMT

Caribbean leaders called for an emergency meeting in Jamaica with the United States, Canada and France on Monday to seek a way out of spiraling gang violence in Haiti.

Members of the Caricom regional trade bloc have been trying for months to get political actors in Haiti to agree to form an umbrella transitional unity government.

So far they have been unsuccessful, and the 15-nation bloc said in a statement late Friday that “the situation on the ground remains dire.” Gunfire again rocked the Haitian capital on Friday, as anti-government gangs battle police in the streets.

The unrelenting gang attacks have paralyzed the country for more than a week and left it with dwindling supplies of basic goods. Haitian officials extended a state of emergency and nightly curfew on Thursday as gangs continued to attack key state institutions.

The Caricom statement said that while regional leaders remain deeply engaged in trying to bring opposition parties and civil society groups together to form a unity government, “the stakeholders are not yet where they need to be."

“We are acutely aware of the urgent need for consensus to be reached,” according to the statement. "We have impressed on the respective parties that time is not on their side in agreeing to the way forward. From our reports, the situation on the ground remains dire and is of serious concern to us.”

"It is vital that this engagement be at as high a level as possible to send a clear message of unity between Caricom and the international community as we work together to provide the critical support to the Haitian people at this time of crisis for them,” said the statement.

In February, embattled Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry agreed to hold general elections by mid-2025, and the international community has tired to find some foreign armed force willing to fight gang violenc e there.

Caricom has also pushed Henry to announce a power sharing, consensus government in the meantime, but Henry is yet to do so even as Haitian opposition parties and civil society groups are demanding his resignation.

Henry, a neurosurgeon, was appointed as prime minister after the early July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

It is unclear whether Henry will be in Jamaica. The prime minister had traveled to Kenya to push for the U.N.-backed deployment of a police force from the East African country to fight gangs in Haiti. A Kenyan court, however, ruled in January that such a deployment would be unconstitutional.

Henry, who is facing calls to resign or form a transitional council, remains unable to return home. He arrived in Puerto Rico on Tuesday after he was unable to land in the Dominican Republic, which borders Haiti. The Dominican government said he lacked a required flight plan as they closed their country’s airspace with Haiti.

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