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Dominica's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, speaking on Haiti during a news conference on Tuesday. (CMC Photo)

Skerrit: Time for another meeting on Haiti

March 20, 2024

ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Tuesday said he believes there should be a high-level meeting on Haiti similar to what was held in Jamaica earlier this month as he criticised the slow pace of international support for ending the political and socio-economic situation in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

Speaking at a news conference, Skerrit said that regional leaders will be meeting by Zoom at 8.00 pm (local time) on Tuesday night to discuss the progress made so far regarding the  Presidential Transitional Council (CPT) paves the way for a peaceful transition of power and  continuity of governance in Haiti.

“The situation in Haiti is very very serious and I believe that the international community has not placed the kind of seriousness or attention on Haiti that it has placed on other parts of the world,” Skerrit told reporters, acknowledging the efforts being made to prevent Russia from overriding Ukraine for example.

“I am not grudging them but Haiti needs help and there are some who have promised the help and the help is not forthcoming. Now I understand there are certain complications in Haiti with regards to the gangs, the violence, no government institution functioning and so forth, but where there is a will there is a way”.

Skerrit said he believes “there is not a deep seated will and therefore we are unable to find a  more direct path to assisting Haiti with its challenges”.

He said Haiti has had a long history of foreign intervention, acknowledging the reluctance of  some in the international community to come forward to help Haiti.

He said from the CARICOM standpoint, “what we have sought to do is to lead the way working with the Haitian people …in getting them to understand and to define a Haitian led solution to Haiti’s situation.

“What we have been doing is to provide the logistical support, the guidance, the encouragement of all of the actors in Haiti and we have met with all of the actors in Haiti…and as a matter of fact for the months of March and February, I have spent more time on haiti than I have spent on Dominica issues.

“Tonight we have a meeting at 8’o clock on Haiti again to follow up on some of the outstanding issues. I know that the Haitians have been meeting among themselves…to look at the possibility of establishing a provisional presidential council that would pave the way for setting a date for elections…”

Skerrit said Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry has indicated a willingness to resign once the council is established, adding “there have been some movements based on what the Haitian people have been telling us, because we in touch with them on  daily basis…and my hope and prayer is that the Haitian people, even though they would not be able to agree on everything…agree on somethings.

Kenya had signed an agreement with Prime Minister Henry earlier this month, allowing for a United Nations Security Council sanctioned international force led by the African country to restore peace and security in his troubled country.

Skerrit said he believes “people are waiting for transitional presidential council to be put in place before they come in and so the security forces would not come in, I suspect on what we know, until and unless this council is put in place and a prime minister has been declared..and so one can have the authority to speak and take action.

“Having said all of this, I still believe that more can be done by some of the countries and one gets the sense that we are dragging our feet and time is not on the Haitian people side because the situation is getting worse and worse and I think we can just hope and pray that something can be done sooner rather than later, because it is already late.

“My suggestion to CARICOM is that we should convene another meeting similar to what we had in Jamaica with all of the Americans, the Canadians, the European Union, French, CARICOM, Brazil and others to assess because it is over a  week since we met in Jamaica and to assess where we are and what else need to be done to support the Haitian people”.

Skerrit said he is aware of a UN Security Council on Haiti this week, saying “ we do not want more speeches, we do not want more talking.

“The Haitian people need money and they need all the help they can get to restore their lives and livelihood and to allow people to go back to normal living,” Skerrit added.

Meanwhile, the United nations announced Tuesday that the US$674 million Humanitarian Needs Response Plan for Haiti is currently 6.5 per cent funded, with US$43 million received. “This is nowhere near enough to respond to the scale of needs on the ground – we urgently need more support,” said Farhan Haq, the Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

He told reporters that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is reporting that the situation in the capital Port-au-Prince remains “tense and volatile.

“Schools, hospitals and government buildings continue to be attacked, with many having curtailed their operations in Port-au-Prince. On 17 March, the public electricity company reported that several electricity substations in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area were destroyed, leaving several areas without power,” he added.

He said despite the tense situation, the UN “and our humanitarian partners are continuing to deliver aid. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners have delivered over 242,000 gallons of water since early March, while WFP (World Food Programme) and its partners have provided over 146,000 hot meals. Psychosocial support is also being provided to those traumatized by the recent violence”.

Hag said that the  health sector continues to struggle due to the lack of medical supplies, healthcare workers and blood.

“Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that the Bernard Mevs hospital in Port-au-Prince has gradually resumed its activities, thanks to support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in providing medicine and medical equipment.ominic

“A stock of anaesthetic drugs has been provided to Hospital Universite de Paix and Eliazar Germain Hospital in Petion-ville in Port-au-Prince,” he told reporters.

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