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Blinken promises Haiti security help at Caribbean summit

Port Of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago | July 6, 2023, Thursday @ 11:25 in World » GENERAL | By: AFP | Views: 2707
Blinken promises Haiti security help at Caribbean summit

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - JUNE 04: A view from the area after flooding in the Portail Leogane, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on June 4, 2023. Guerinault Louis / Anadolu Agency (Photo by Guerinault Louis / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)

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(AFP) - Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised Wednesday at a Caribbean summit that the United States was committed to restoring security in Haiti, which has been wracked in overlapping crises of violence and poverty.

"The United States shares the commitment felt throughout the region to help the Haitian people shape their future to restore the country's democratic order through free and fair elections," Blinken told leaders of the Caribbean Community, or Caricom, gathered in Trinidad and Tobago.

"Haitians cannot achieve these critical goals without security," he said.

"That's why we've been and remain the largest international donor to the Haitian National Police, why we support the nation's government's call for a multinational force to help us restore security," he said.

Blinken stopped short of saying who could lead the multinational force, a goal promoted since last year by Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, whom Blinken will meet at the summit.

No country has stepped forward, and President Joe Biden's administration has made clear that it will not risk Americans' lives, instead prioritizing bolstering Haiti's fledgling national police force.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently visited Haiti and warned that the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation was facing "unprecedented violence" at the hands of gangs.

"The security situation is rapidly deteriorating, and humanitarian needs are soaring," Guterres said Monday in Trinidad and Tobago, where he attended the Caricom summit following his stop in Haiti.

Guterres has backed calls for a robust international force to stabilize Haiti, where the government has effectively lost control of broad stretches of territory.

Last week, UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell said after a trip to Port-au-Prince that the world was "failing the Haitian people."

The United States has put a high priority on calling for new elections in Haiti, which were last held in 2016.

Blinken will "urge Prime Minister Henry to work urgently with Haitian stakeholders to enlarge the political consensus and fashion a political path forward that returns Haiti to democratic order," said Barbara Feinstein, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Caribbean affairs and Haiti.

Haiti's last elected president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated in July 2021.

The Caricom summit is celebrating 50 years of the regional bloc.

Blinken promised to help the nations as they combat the scourge of climate change. He also announced the appointment of a new position to help curb crime in Caribbean states.

Michael Ben'Ary will serve as the first US coordinator for Caribbean firearms prosecutions, working closely with the region on weapons investigations.

Blinken will also visit the South American nation of Guyana on his two-day trip.

© Agence France-Presse

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Tags: Haiti, UN, Blinken

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