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The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously approved a sanctions regime for Haiti, targeting gang leaders and those that finance them, within the hope of easing months of violence and lawlessness which has fuelled a serious humanitarian crisis.
Criminal gangs have been blocking access to the principal fuel terminal within the capital Port-au-Prince, bringing critical services to a standstill, as Haiti grapples with a widening cholera epidemic, amid political and economic meltdown.
“Catastrophic” levels of hunger have been recorded this month for the primary time, within the gang controlled Cite Soleil neighbourhood, and 4.7 million individuals are facing acute hunger, with many losing access to jobs, markets, health and nutrition services.
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Resolution 2653, drafted by the USA and Mexico, is the primary sanctions regime adopted since that of Mali, just over five years ago. It establishes a committee which might be liable for designating the individuals and entities to be sanctioned.
Enemy of the people
The resolution specifically sanctions notorious gang leader, Jimmy Cherizier, an ex-police officer who’s reportedly essentially the most powerful gang boss within the country, known by his alias “Barbeque”.
He heads the so-called “G9 Families and Allies”, and the annex notes that he has engaged in “acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Haiti”, having planned or directed acts that quantity to “serious human rights abuses.”
Asset freeze, travel ban, arms embargo
Sanctions include an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo, against those engaging in or supporting criminal activity and violence, involving armed groups and criminal networks.
Designated activity includes recruiting children, carrying out kidnappings, trafficking, murder and sexual and gender-based violence.
Crucially, the resolution also designates the obstruction of humanitarian assistance to and inside Haiti, and any attacks on personnel or premises, of UN missions and operations.
Speaking within the Council chamber following the vote, US Ambassador and co-pen holder on Haiti, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the unanimous vote represented “a crucial step to assist the Haitian people”, and was “truly reflective of Council consensus.”
‘Clear message’ to the gangs
She said the Council was “sending a transparent message to the bad actors, which can be holding Haiti hostage. The international community won’t stand idly by, whilst you wreak havoc on the Haitian people.”
She said clear measurable and well-defined safeguards were also in place to review the effectiveness of the targeted sanctions, however the challenge now remained of restoring security and alleviating the humanitarian crisis.
Non-UN force within the pipeline
Ms. Thomas-Greenfield reminded that the US-Mexico are working on a resolution which can authorize a “non-UN international security assistance mission” to handle security issues to facilitate humanitarian aid. This was not only in response to a request from the Haitian Government, but in addition an option suggested by the UN Secretary-General, she added.
SOURCE: UN News. Headline photo: Stock image.
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