Helen La Lime, Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in the country, also expressed deep concern about the “continued polarization of Haitian politics” and the increasing tendency of some actors to resort to violence.
Deterioration in conditions
Given Haiti’s efforts to prepare for a number of elections later in 2021, including at the presidential level, Ms. La Lime said conditions in the country have deteriorated in recent weeks.
A resurgence of COVID-19 cases prompted authorities to declare a new health emergency and consequently prompted the Provisional Electoral Council to postpone the constitutional referendum scheduled for late June.
The past few months have also been marked by several worrying security incidents and serious human rights violations by gangs targeting civilians.
Meanwhile, she said a resurgence of gang violence has caused the displacement of hundreds of families in several poor areas of Port-au-Prince and has deepened the sense of insecurity that permeates Haitian society.
Despite several mediation efforts led by Haiti, “the deep-seated political crisis that has gripped the country for nearly four years is showing no sign of subsiding,” and the rhetoric of some political leaders is growing sharper.
Debate on constitutional amendments
Among other major political challenges, Ms. La Lime cited the ongoing debate over a proposed referendum that would introduce substantial changes to Haiti’s current 1987 constitution.
These would include a clause allowing a president to run for two consecutive five-year terms without the currently required five-year hiatus.
Stressing that such debates must not prejudice the timely organization and conduct of the overdue parliamentary, local and presidential elections, Ms. La Lime advocated political consensus as the best possible way forward.
“As Haiti prepares to enter a new election cycle, an inclusive and participatory process will be crucial to cement the path to good governance and political stability in the country,” she said.
Despite the complex situation, the UN team in Haiti – led by the United Nations Integrated Office in the country known as BINUH – continues to work hand in hand to help the authorities address both the immediate challenges and the structural drivers of instability to support.
Ms. La Lime told council members that her team’s priorities include several joint initiatives aimed at implementing national social protection policies, advancing the fight against impunity and corruption, and operationalizing the nexus between humanitarian aid, development and peace.
She stressed that there is still a deficit of $ 198 million in Haiti’s 2021-2022 Humanitarian Response Plan and said that 1.5 million people in the country are currently in need of humanitarian assistance – 1.3 million of them are severely food insecure.
Against this background, she appealed to the Council and all donors to increase their support.