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Political Impasse In Haiti, Amid Rising Humanitarian Needs, Ahead Of Crucial Elections


Amid worsening socioeconomic conditions, rising criminal
gang violence and a resurgence of COVID-19, Haiti’s
leaders must commit to good-faith dialogue aimed at ending a
longstanding and damaging political impasse, the UN’s
senior official in the country told the Security Council
today.

Helen La Lime, who is the Secretary-General’s
Special Representative for Haiti and head of UN’s
integrated office in the country, also voiced deep concern
over the “ever-growing polarization of Haitian politics”
and the increasing tendency by some actors to resort to
violence.

Deteriorating conditions

Noting
Haiti’s efforts to prepare for a slate of elections later
in 2021, including at the presidential level, Ms. La Lime
said conditions in the country have worsened over recent
weeks.

A resurgence in COVID-19 cases
prompted authorities to declare a new state of health
emergency, and consequently led the Provisional Electoral
Council to postpone the proposed constitutional referendum,
scheduled to take place at the end of June.

Recent
months have also been marked by several worrying security
incidents and serious human rights abuses perpetrated by
gangs against civilians.

Meanwhile, she said, a
resurgence in inter-gang violence has caused the
displacement of hundreds of families in several poor
neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince, and has deepened the
feeling of insecurity which pervades Haitian
society.

Despite several Haitian-led mediation
efforts, “the deep-rooted political crisis which has
gripped the country for the better part of the last four
years shows no sign of abating” and the rhetoric used by
some political leaders is growing increasingly
acrimonious.

Debate over constitutional
changes

Among other major political challenges, Ms.
La Lime cited ongoing debate a proposed referendum which
would introduce significant changes to Haiti’s current
Constitution, adopted in 1987.

Those would include a
clause allowing a President to run for two consecutive
five-year terms without the currently required five-year
pause.

Emphasizing that such debates must not be
allowed to detract from the timely organization and holding
of the overdue parliamentary and local polls, as well as the
presidential election, Ms. La Lime advocated for a political
consensus as the best possible path
forward.

“As Haiti prepares to enter a
new electoral cycle, an inclusive and participatory process
will be essential to consolidate the path towards good
governance and political stability in the country”, she
stressed.

Funding shortfalls

In
spite of the complex situation, the UN team in Haiti – led
by the United Nations Integrated Office in the country,
known as BINUH
continues to work hand in hand to help authorities address
both immediate challenges as well as the structural drivers
of instability.

Ms. La Lime told Council members that
her team’s priorities include several joint initiatives
aimed at implementing the national social protection policy,
catalysing the fight against impunity and corruption and
operationalizing the humanitarian-development-peace
nexus.

Emphasizing that Haiti’s Humanitarian
Response Plan for 2021-2022 still faces a shortfall of $198
million, she said 1.5 million people in the country are
currently in need of humanitarian support – 1.3 million of
whom are severely food insecure.

Against that
backdrop, she appealed to the Council and all donors to
bolster their
support.

© Scoop Media

 



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