A disastrous earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, leaving the country in deep distress. Reconstruction failed to address the systemic problems underlying its extreme socio-economic inequality and endemic political and gang violence. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 and a bout of natural disasters soon thereafter, Haiti’s humanitarian plight has gone from bad to worse. Crisis Group aims to shed light on the sources of Haiti’s strife and supports core reforms to the security sector and state that could pave the way for credible elections, improved security and clean government.
Haiti is reeling from the president’s assassination, a major earthquake and a severe tropical storm. The country needs urgent assistance, and its planned elections can wait. Outside powers should channel aid through local civil society groups, help investigate high-level crimes and support pressing reforms.
Stalemate over political transition continued, while ongoing gang violence triggered health centre closure. Amid ongoing political tensions, U.S. diplomat Barbara Feinstein 6 April met members of so-called Montana Accord (who have proposed two-year transitional plan that includes five-member presidential college and prime minister) in capital Port-au-Prince; members said govt mediation commission, appointed 31 March to seek agreement between PM Henry and Montana Accord members, was formed unilaterally, rendering it illegitimate. Representatives of two political organisations 11 April withdrew backing for PM Henry, held meeting with members of Montana Accord to seek agreement on proposed transitional govt. Gang violence persisted through month. International humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders 1 April temporarily suspended operations at emergency health centre in Port-au-Prince’s impoverished commune Cité Soleil due to violence. Authorities 5 April arrested prison director, police officer and court clerk for allegedly releasing imprisoned gang leader Ti Samy in exchange for bribes in northern coastal city of Fort-Liberté. Police 16 April killed two members of “5 Secondes” gang in firefight in Port-au-Prince’s Martissant neighbourhood; police next day arrested two more gang members. Gang 400 Mawozo 24-26 April clashed with rival gang Chen Mechan in turf war over six neighbourhoods in and around Croix-des-Missions, Port-au-Prince; Haitian Civil Protection Agency 27 April reported clashes left at least 20 civilians killed, with nearly two dozen wounded and thousands displaced. Meanwhile, former Colombian soldier Mario Antonio Palacios, extradited from Panama to U.S. in Jan, 4 April pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to kill or kidnap late President Moïse; mandate of Judge Merlan Belabre, who was overseeing investigation into Moïse’s assassination since 4 March, expired 25 April; no judge in Haiti overseeing investigation into Moïse’s assassination by month’s end.
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.
This roundtable examines the causes of violence and instability in Haiti and explores the ways in which Haitians, with the support of the international community, can take actions to overcome the current crisis.
The killing of President Jovenel Moïse in murky circumstances has plunged the country into political turmoil. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Mariano de Alba explains the state of play and what outside actors should do as they seek to help Haiti achieve stability.
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