Stability and security in Haiti remain shaky following the disastrous 2010 earthquake. Democratic institutions are weak and government largely unaccountable, leaving citizens sceptical of participatory politics. Income and wealth gaps are yawning. For several years Crisis Group’s Haiti Project advocated for national consensus and international donor patience to begin addressing the systemic socio-political problems underlying the country’s humanitarian plight. We ended this Project in 2013 but continue to closely monitor events in Haiti through the Crisis Watch conflict tracker.
Death of police officers in anti-gang operation triggered violent unrest and President Moïse sought international support to combat mounting insecurity. Anti-gang operation in Village de Dieu neighbourhood of capital Port-au-Prince 12 March turned violent, leaving at least four special police unit officers dead and eight others wounded. After video showing gang members beating police circulated online, harsh criticism of botched operation and widespread insecurity emerged on social media under #FreeHaiti hashtag, and several days of unrest roiled Port-au-Prince and surroundings, with demonstrators 15 March erecting barricades on city’s main roads. Members of outlawed Fantom 509, group of disgruntled police officers, 17 March protested to demand return of officers’ bodies still held by gang members, also set Delmas police station on fire and freed four jailed comrades accused of participating in 7 Feb alleged coup attempt against President Moïse; next day broke into Croix-des-Bouquets police station, freeing one officer reportedly imprisoned for shooting gang member. Moïse 15 March asked Organization of American States (OAS) Sec Gen Luis Almagro for assistance to deal with security crisis and next day requested UN technical and logistical support for police forces. Govt 18 March declared state of emergency in several areas where gangs exert control. Meanwhile, thousands 7 March demonstrated in Port-au-Prince in massive pro-democracy protest, denounced surge in abductions and called on Moïse to resign. On anniversary of Haitian constitution, thousands 28-29 March took to streets in Port-au-Prince to protest constitutional referendum scheduled for 27 June; Moïse 29 March reiterated need for constitutional reform. OAS 17 March passed resolution welcoming Moïse’s invitation to send Electoral Observation Mission to monitor upcoming constitutional referendum and general elections. Meanwhile, Dominican Republic govt 2 March detailed plan, first announced 27 Feb, to build fence along border with Haiti to curb irregular migration and illicit trade.
Without an inclusive national pact on critical priorities, President Michel Martelly faces the spectre of a failed presidency, and Haiti risks international abandonment.
The UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) needs a gradual reconfiguration of its operations prior to a withdrawal, to avoid a security vacuum and give Haiti the chance for sustainable development.
A dysfunctional justice system continues to pose significant obstacles to the democratic process in a post-earthquake Haiti where security and stability remain fragile.
Kidnapping, urban gangs and unresolved killings form a trifecta of challenges to citizen safety that the four month-old Martelly administation must confront by speedily completing reforms to professionalise the Haitian National Police(HNP).
A year and a half after a deadly earthquake devastated its capital, 650,000 victims still wait for permanent housing in more than 1,000 unstable emergency camps across Haiti as a new hurricane season arrives.
Haitian authorities and the international community need to ensure that the first post-quake elections meet acceptable standards of credibility and produce the legitimate government needed to carry through massive institutional and infrastructure reconstruction.
Originally published in Huffington Post
Presentation by Mark L. Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group on “Is it time for MINUSTAH to leave Haiti?” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, DC, 25 July 2013.
Originally published in Reforma
Originally published in Miami Herald
Delayed elections, mistrust and public protests against Haitian President Michel Martelly threaten the country’s chance to end decades of political conflict and to recover from the 2010 earthquake. Without a national accord, the country risks ongoing crises. Javier Ciurlizza, Crisis Group Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, tells us more on the current challenges Haiti is facing.