Haiti poised to seek help from foreign forces amid crisis, officials say

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The Haitian government is poised to seek help from foreign security forces, amid crises that have plunged the country into mounting chaos, two Haitian officials told The Washington Post.

The move comes as the government struggles to ensure some semblance of order. The gangs control a major port and have choked off the flow of oil and other essentials; hospitals lack supplies; violence remains endemic; anti-government protests sparked by a plan to cut fuel subsidies filled the streets for weeks; access to drinking water is severely tested and cases of cholera raise fears of a new epidemic.

The government intends to ask “international partners” for “a specialized armed force” to strengthen basic services, according to a resolution signed Thursday by a high-level council of ministers, sent to The Post by Jean-Junior Joseph, communications adviser to the Prime Minister. Minister Ariel Henry. The resolution authorized the Prime Minister to request such assistance.

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The objective is “to establish a secure climate which must make it possible to fight effectively against cholera, to promote the resumption of the distribution of fuel and drinking water throughout the territory, the functioning of hospitals, the restarting of economic activities , the free movement of people and goods, and the reopening of schools,” the resolution reads.

Joseph did not say what kind of forces would be sought, or what partners would be required.

A State Department spokesperson told reporters Friday that UN officials in Haiti have called for a humanitarian corridor to facilitate fuel distribution throughout the country and that the Biden administration, in consultation with Henry and its American partners, was reviewing the request. He declined to say whether those talks involved the potential deployment of military assets. He did not say how the request would interact with any additional requests from the Haitian government. The US Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sharp rise in fuel prices triggers violent protests in Haiti

The involvement of foreign military forces would be a sensitive subject in Haiti, met with deep skepticism: The country has a long history of destabilizing foreign interventions.

“We are not asking for an occupying force,” Bocchit Edmond, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, told The Post. “Were simply asking for national assistance as a member of the international community going through such a difficult time.

“That’s why we have international organizations like the UN, like the OAS. It is to come to the aid of member states when there is a problem,” he added. “The situation, if we leave it like this, can lead us to a human catastrophe.”

Béatrice Nibogora, United Nations spokesperson in Haiti, said the UN had not received a request from the government on Friday.

A foreign government official with knowledge of a meeting at the Organization of American States (OAS) on Haiti that took place on Thursday, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the question, said Haitian officials made no demands at the time.

OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro tweeted in french Thursday that Haiti “must request urgent assistance from the international community to help resolve the security crises, determine the characteristics of an international security force”.

In recent weeks, the situation has become increasingly dire, as indicated by the cabinet resolution issued on Friday.

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince said Friday that the State Department has cleared U.S. personnel and their families to leave the country immediately.

Last month, looters stormed a warehouse in the city of Gonaives, stealing enough food to feed 100,000 school children until the end of the year, the World Food Program said. Even as the government seeks help abroad, its support at home is rapidly eroding: critics accuse Henry of delaying new elections, and protesters, furious at his announcement that the government can no longer allow fuel to be subsidized, and through the general chaos and lack of access to necessities, call for his resignation.

Amanda Coletta contributed to this report.

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