Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to preside over Haiti’s speech at the UN

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to preside over Haiti’s speech at the UN

Canadian

Demonstrators protest fuel price increases and demand the resignation of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022.

AP

As the United Nations General Assembly begins in New York, Haiti will turn its attention not only to the United States, which will co-host a high-level donor event on Friday, but to its northern neighbor, Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will lead Haiti advisory group discussions on Wednesday on the sidelines of a major summit of world leaders in hopes of instilling urgency in the crisis-ravaged country and discussing how the international community can help.

“Our leadership is increasing and this is a sign that the situation is very serious and that we are following it closely and that the international community must come together and support Haiti,” said Sébastien Carrière, Canadian ambassador in Port-au-Prince.

A year after the still unsolved assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, Haiti has neither a timetable for new general elections nor an agreement between the warring political factions that could help bring it about. Recent protests, ignited after the government announced an increase in the price of fuel at the pumps, have brought the country to a violent standstill.

Some protesters, protesting the higher cost of living and demanding the resignation of interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry, have destroyed charity and government stores, built burning barricades to block roads and attacked banks , foreign embassies and the homes of government supporters and members of the Community. private sector.

Even schools and hospitals were not spared in the violence, which saw relief on Tuesday when Hurricane Fiona swept the country but hit the neighboring Dominican Republic.

At the opening of the General Assembly on Monday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, spoke about the growing turmoil around the world. He cited Haiti among 10 countries where there is “great strife.”

“In Haiti,” said Guterres, “gangs are destroying the foundations of society.”

His comments emphasizing Haiti coincided with those of the President of the Dominican Republic Luis Abinader. During a visit to Washington last week, Abinader raised his concerns about Haiti with Biden administration officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris. He also raised them with Trudeau before the UN meeting.

Carrière said Wednesday’s meeting will focus heavily on the security situation in Haiti, which Canada has made a top priority as gangs disappear and strengthen their grip. He knows that one meeting will not solve the problem, but if the international community can focus on supporting the Haitian National Police to restore security, it is the first step, he said.

“What’s going on out there – the looting, the violence – is appalling and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” ​​said Carrière. “People have the right to protest peacefully… We hear the frustrations out there in the streets; over 5 million people have nothing to eat according to the latest numbers.”

Although Wednesday’s meeting will not be about civil unrest, the meeting is certainly timely given the ongoing political and security challenges.

“I expect political dialogue to emerge; I expect security issues to arise. The current crisis, of course. It’s very hard to ignore the news when you’re in a meeting,” said Carrière. “The aim is to have a high-level discussion about how to better get along with Haiti.”

For Canada, that priority is the Haitian police, who were stretched when gangs took to the streets last week in an attempt to block the delivery of fuel at stations amid the chaos.

“It is a very complex and volatile security situation. I have the greatest respect for the [police] and the work they are doing,” said Carrière. “What is missing is the political actors coming together and also doing their best to reach a comprehensive agreement that leaves no one behind and puts the country back on the right track.”

This year alone, Canada has provided $42 million Canadian dollars to support the Haitian police, including $10 million for a fund controlled by the UN. The fund, however, is still millions of dollars short of money to equip the police and finance a container inspection project at the country’s ports to be run by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

“What we want is for other countries to step up,” Carrière said.

That’s where Friday’s donor meeting comes in. Canada is co-hosting the meeting with the United States, and it will be largely focused on raising contributions to the UN fund and the container project to tighten scrutiny at the country’s ports, which the interim government has. done as a priority.

Recent reforms to the ports to recapture at least $600 million in lost revenue have increased government revenue by about 20%, but are also fueling the protests. Those involved in a thriving black market in fuel as well as smuggling and illegal arms imports are suspected of fueling the ongoing violence.

On Monday, the Biden administration’s top aide on Latin America and the Caribbean, Juan Gonzalez, said economic interests are funding the violent civil unrest.

Carrière agrees with the assessment that some of the protests are being financed by economic interests. “I think the popular miscontent cannot be dismissed but one must also be mindful of the powerful economic interests of this country.”

Haitian advocates said that while it will be understandable that security issues and the political crisis will be the focus of Haiti’s discussion at the General Assembly, Canada and others in the international community should keep development aid high on the agenda.

Analysis by the Implementation Science Initiative, which succeeded the Office of the Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Dr Paul Farmer, found that donors had failed to deliver promised development aid to Haiti over the years and not kept. promise to behave differently in the distribution of that aid.

“The international community has consistently sidelined public institutions in Haiti, effectively weakening the only stakeholder accountable to the Haitian people and responsible for the country’s development. “After decades of weakening Haitian institutions, the current crisis should come as no surprise,” the group said.

The group urged donors to “break the business-as-usual approach and honor their commitments to the aid effectiveness agenda by accompanying their Haitian counterparts to meet their country’s critical needs”.

Profile Image of Jacqueline Charles

Jacqueline Charles has reported on Haiti and the English-speaking Caribbean for the Miami Herald for over a decade. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and was awarded the 2018 Maria Moors Cabot Award — the most prestigious award for American coverage.

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