Haiti’s ‘future holds indomitable promise’ – President UN General Assembly

“Haiti is not hopeless”, the President of the UN General Assembly said on Monday during a meeting addressing the multiple crises besetting the Caribbean nation, alongside the presidents of the UN Security Council and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Dennis Francis

Dennis Francis, a veteran diplomat from Trinidad and Tobago, said he had returned from a visit to Haiti at the end of last month “with hope and the full knowledge that while Haiti is facing extraordinary challenges, its future holds indomitable promise.”

The country has seen almost 4,000 killed and 3,000 kidnapped in gang-related violence just this year, following a political, economic and security crisis that has left much of the country descend into lawlessness.

Driving in the streets of Port au Prince, I saw visible signs of hope – sustained by the undying resilience and perseverance of the Haitian people – who seem to create inventive ways to meet the daily challenges”, Mr. Francis told the meeting.

“There is, in my view, no shortage of potential in Haiti – and it is not too late that, as the international community, we must do something to accompany the Haitian people, further”, he said noting that the most pressing need is for greater security.

Around 40 per cent of Haiti’s healthcare workers have reportedly left the country, while women and girls have been subject to brutal sexual violence “with many living in a cycle of fear and trauma.”

Mr. Francis noted that the much-needed deployment of a Multinational Security Support Mission authorized by the Security Council on 2 October, has not materialised.

It is “awaited with great urgency by many in Haiti”, with 80 per cent of the capital under gang control and spreading further afield into rural areas, he said.

He called on political elites in Haiti to abandon their self-centred pre-occupation and to prioritize their constituents “who have endured too much turmoil and who deserve to be given a chance, to succeed. I emphasized that Haiti belongs to them too and that it is their responsibility as elites seeking office to fix the country so that young Haitians would be guaranteed a life chance.”

The President of ECOSOC, Paula Narváez said that as the principal bodies of the UN met with a call for collective action, they needed to send “a strong signal that we firmly stand with the Haitian people.”

“Saving Haitian lives must be out utmost priority said Ms. Narváez, calling on all partners to substantially increase their support for the Haiti Humanitarian Response Plan which as of last week, is only 33 per cent funded.

Secondly, efforts must be focused on long-term resilience through sustainable development. This means strengthening institutions, initiating justice and rule of law reforms and gender equality led through women’s empowerment.

Third she called for implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, a four-year plan setting out priorities and a clear pathway forward.

The ECOSOC Advisory Group on Haiti on Monday called on international financial institutions to “redouble” their assistance to the country.