Haitian President Ariel Henry has called on the United Nations to deploy an international peacekeeping force as violence escalates in the Caribbean nation. While Washington supported Henry’s rise to power, the US appears unwilling to lead the UN security mission.
Both the US and Canada “expressed no interest” in an armed mission in Haiti during a Security Council meeting on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. The US’ deputy UN ambassador Robert Wood argued that “Haiti must address its continued insecurity challenges” and said the international community should support those efforts, but did not directly respond to the latest request for a troop deployment.
Henry first requested a UN-backed force last October, when he urged foreign partners to help quash rampant gang violence and civil unrest that erupted following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. The new leader has served as both caretaker president and prime minister ever since, despite suspicions that Henry was involved in Moïse’s murder.
The UN’s special envoy to Haiti, Helen La Lime, warned that gang violence in the country had “reached levels not seen in decades,” telling other Security Council members that “Haitians overwhelmingly want this assistance so they can go about their daily lives in peace.” According to UN statistics, more than 780 people were killed, and another 540 kidnapped, just between January and May of 2022.
In October, senior State Department officials visited Canada in an effort to push Ottawa to lead the military coalition. However, Canada appears to have resisted the American pressure, with both countries instead deciding to supply armored vehicles for Haiti’s national police force. Washington and Ottawa have also proposed international sanctions for gang leaders, with Wood suggesting that additional penalties were in the works during Tuesday’s UNSC meeting.