CARICOM Leaders To Discuss Situation In Haiti Next Week

(CMC) – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Leaders will meet on next Wednesday to discuss the ongoing social and political situation in Haiti, CARICOM chairman, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has announced.

“We will meet virtually as CARICOM heads, the main item on the agenda will be Haiti and the situation in Haiti,” the Dominican Prime Minister told a news conference on Wednesday, adding that the issue of climate change will also be a matter on the agenda.

He said that the United Nations Security Council had mandated the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, “to make certain proposals to the Security Council on what actions needed to be taken, what support Haiti needs to restore the security in Haiti and to ensure that the Haitian people can go about their daily lives like everyone of us in the region”.

Skerrit reminded reporters that CARICOM had some months appointed an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) led by the former prime minister of St Lucia, Dr Kenny Anthony and includes the former prime minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding and his former Bahamian counterpart Perry Christie.

“They have been engaging a wide cross section of the population, representative groups, they have also been having discussions with the UN as well as other stakeholders in the United States and Canada and so we are further looking to coordinate our efforts.

“We are of the view and we accept that on that mandate that CARICOM will have to play a very crucial role in coordinating global efforts towards providing Haiti with the support that it needs.”

Skerrit told reporters that the regional leaders “will be meeting to take stock on what that has transpired thus far and to receive a report from the group led by Dr Anthony and to further determine what other actions that CARICOM would need to take to provide support to Haiti.

“As you know Kenya has communicated its commitment to providing troops, police officers and there are other African countries that have communicated that as well. There are some countries in CARICOM that has indicated they will provide police personnel,” he added.

Earlier this month, in a report that was circulated to the 15-member Security Council, the UN Secretary General outlined two potential UN options, namely providing logistical support to a multinational force and Haiti’s police and to strengthen a UN political mission already in Haiti.

“Haiti’s current context is not conducive to peacekeeping,” Guterres wrote, adding “nothing short of the robust use of force, complemented by a suite of non-kinetic measures, by a capable specialized multinational police force enabled by military assets, coordinated with the national police, would be able to achieve these objectives”.

Kenya’s Foreign Minister, Alfred Mutua, has said that his country’s commitment is to deploy a contingent of 1,000 police officers to help train and assist Haitian police restore normalcy in the country and protect strategic installations.

Two CARICOM countries – the Bahamas and Jamaica- have already said they are willing to provide personnel and the United States has also indicated a willingness to put forward a Security Council resolution to back a deployment.

Prime Minister Skerrit said that Dominica is willing to provide support as it relates to translators “as we did before when the earthquake hit Haiti and police officers were sent and others were sent for translation purposes”.

Skerrit said personally for him as chairman of the 15-member regional integration grouping, “I have indicated very sincerely that the Haitian situation is my number one priority.

“We owe it to the Haitian people and it is important that the entire Caribbean Community, not only the heads of governments but the entire Caribbean Community, is engaged and is seized of the issues confronting Haiti and for us to collectively provide that moral or collective commitment and support to Haiti.

“We have to guard against any semblance of or attitude of Haiti fatigue from various quarters…and we are in touch with members of the Security Council because I know at the end of the day, it is the Security Council that will make a determination as to the support to be provided.

“Countries that will want to provide support , but would want to have a UN Security decision…to provide them with the necessary legal cover of being present in Haiti,” Skerrit said, assuring the Caribbean public that they will be provided with the outcomes of the deliberations on Wednesday.

Last year, Haiti’s Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry, sent an urgent appeal to the UN asking for “the immediate deployment of a specialized armed force, in sufficient quantity” to stop gang warfare in his country.

On the issue of climate change, Skerrit said it is an item that will remain “fixed” on CARICOM’s agenda “and so we look forward to the engagement of  heads on this issue.