Acknowledging the worsening crisis in Haiti, Prime Minister Philip Davis said yesterday the tragedy unfolding there poses a “substantial threat” to The Bahamas and neighboring countries.
Davis said the solution to Haiti’s problem lies in a Haitian-led path, and one that includes the support of regional leaders.
“The crisis in Haiti is getting worse,” said Davis during the opening session of the Seventh Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States (CELAC) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“The tragic situation there continues to pose a substantial threat not only to Haitians, but also to The Bahamas and neighboring countries, all of whom are experiencing a significant increase in irregular and often dangerous migration.
“With the support and
leadership of Haiti, collectively, we can, through CELAC and other regional organizations, help Haitians build a path out of crisis.
“We commend Haitian-led efforts to hold elections before the end of 2023, to arrest the threat to public security posed by violent gangs, to relieve hunger and malnutrition, and to alleviate the political crisis.
“Enhanced regional partnership can especially help to scale up capacity-building for the local police, and tackle trafficking, particularly in people, contraband and guns.
“These Haiti-led solutions provide promising alternatives to the usual inclination to carry out activities in Haiti without Haitian direction, and the preference for investing in the strengthening of the NGOs in Haiti, as opposed to strengthening her public institutions.”
More than 500 Haitian migrants have been caught trying to enter The Bahamas illegally so far this year.
The latest interception happened on Saturday when the US Coast Guard spotted an overloaded sail boat with over 390 people onboard. The migrants were turned over to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and transported to Inagua.
Video of the sloop bobbing in the sea was posted on Twitter by the US Coast Guard and was widely shared on social media. It showed the migrants crammed on the deck, with no room to move.
The United States has called it one of the largest human smuggling operations in the region.
Thousands of Haitians have tried to flee the country in the wake of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in 2021 and the ensuing violence and economic challenges.
There was an increase in murders, kidnappings and sexual violence in Haiti last year, officials reported.
During a meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Haiti, UN Secretary General António Guterres said yesterday it has only gotten worse.
Guterres said gang violence in Haiti “has reached levels not seen in decades”.
He noted that the expiration of the mandate of the last 10 senators in Haiti who were holding office “means there is not one elected official left in Haiti”.
US Ambassador for Special and Political Affairs in the UN Robert Wood said gang violence in Haiti has reached “unprecedented levels”.
“We see human rights abuses as these same criminal gangs use gender-based violence including rape to instill fear and expand their territorial control,” Wood said.
“The international community must step up to address the growing humanitarian needs and also help Haiti address insecurity, so that progress can be made on the December political accord.”
In a statement yesterday, CARICOM urged all stakeholders to come together.
“The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) notes the efforts made by various groups of Haitian stakeholders to negotiate political accords since 2021 to contribute to resolving the protracted political stalemate,” it said.
“This includes the latest agreement that was made public by the interim prime minister on 21 December 2022.
“CARICOM urges all stakeholders to come together in their search for a consensus agreement.
“The community remains willing and ready to assist in achieving this goal and in that regard had commenced sounding Haitian stakeholders over the past few weeks about their willingness to attend a meeting in a CARICOM country.”
Haiti has no president or sitting Parliament, nor has it held an election since 2016.