Haitians take to the streets to protest against insecurity Haitians take to the streets to protest against insecurity  (ANSA)

Haiti: Ramped-up international security force to tackle gang violence

Canada, Benin, France and Jamaica have offered support to a U.N.-backed international security force aimed at tackling rampant gang violence in Haiti. The initiative follows a meeting in Brazil co-hosted by the United States.

By Linda Bordoni

Washington has pledged $200 million to fund the Multinational Security Support (MSS), headed by Kenya since last year.

Speaking at a summit in Rio de Janeiro, where foreign ministers of the G20 group of developed nations met this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged support for the initiative.

"We need to do more to help the Haitian national police stabilize the security situation now so that aid can actually flow in effectively and get to people who need it," he said, "so that Haitians don't have to live in terror of gangs, and so that Haiti returns fully and strongly to a democratic path."

During the meeting, a statement was released saying Canada, Benin, France and Jamaica "announced financial, personnel, and in-kind commitments to the mission."

Another 120 million US dollars were committed by other countries during the meeting.

The UN Security Council authorized the mission in October, a year after the Caribbean country - where nearly 5,000 people were killed by gang violence last year - asked for help to fight the violent gangs that have largely overrun its capital, Port-au-Prince.

Catholic Church's concern

Pope Francis has expressed concern for the dramatic situation of poverty and injustice in the Caribbean nation. In January he appealed for prayers and asked for the release of missionary nuns who were abducted by criminals in broad daylight in the centre of Port-au-Prince.

At the beginning of February, he personally telephoned French missionary Sister Paësie who spares no effort to help the street children in the capital with her Kizito Family which looks after some 2,500 children in the slums.

Just this week, Bishop Dumas of the Haitian Bishops’ Conference, a tireless voice in denouncing the violence in the nation, was injured in an explosion.

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23 February 2024, 14:21