The United Nations Security Council on Friday unanimously approved a sanctions regime against Haiti targeting gang leaders and those who finance them, hoping to ease months of violence and lawlessness that have fueled a major humanitarian crisis.
Criminal gangs have blocked access to the main fuel terminal in the capital Port-au-Prince, halting critical services, as Haiti grapples with a growing cholera epidemic amid political and economic meltdown.
The UN said “catastrophic” levels of hunger were recorded this month for the first time, in the gang-controlled Cite Soleil district, with 4.7 million people facing acute hunger, with many losing access to jobs, markets, health and nutrition. services.
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The United Nations said Resolution 2653, drafted by the United States and Mexico, is the first sanctions regime adopted since the one in Mali just over five years ago. It establishes a committee that will be responsible for designating the individuals and entities to be sanctioned.
The resolution specifically sanctions the notorious gang leader, Jimmy Cherizier, a former police officer who is reportedly the most powerful gang boss in the country, known by his alias “Barbeque”.
He leads the so-called “G9 families and allies,” and the annex notes that he has engaged in “actions that threaten the peace, security and stability of Haiti,” having planned or directed actions that entailed “serious violations of the human the rights”. “
The sanctions include asset freezes, travel bans and arms embargoes against those who participate in or support criminal activity and violence, involving armed groups and criminal networks.
Designated activities include recruiting children, carrying out kidnappings, trafficking, murder, and sexual and gender-based violence.
Crucially, the resolution also calls out the obstruction of humanitarian aid to and inside Haiti, and any attacks on personnel or premises, of UN missions and operations.
Speaking in the council chamber after the vote, US Ambassador and co-pen holder to Haiti Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the unanimous vote represented “an important step to help the Haitian people”, and that it “really reflected the consensus of the Council”.
She said the council “sends a clear message to the bad actors holding Haiti hostage. The international community will not stand idly by while you wreak havoc on the Haitian people.”
The US diplomat said clear measurable and well-defined safeguards were also in place to review the effectiveness of the targeted sanctions, but the challenge now remained to restore security and alleviate the humanitarian crisis.