The United States said it is reviewing Haiti’s request for security assistance amid spiraling insecurity and a deepening humanitarian crisis.
The State Department’s top diplomat for the Western Hemisphere, Brian Nichols, is heading to the Caribbean Island nation on Wednesday to assess the situation.
Heavily armed gangs control parts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and have blocked access to the country’s main fuel terminal since mid-September. This has worsened the already dire humanitarian situation, affecting the availability of electricity, clean water, garbage collection and the ability of hospitals to operate.
Last Friday, Haiti’s government authorized Prime Minister Ariel Henry to request the immediate deployment of an international specialized armed force to help stop the criminal gangs. The gangs are seeking to exploit the political vacuum left by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise at his home in Port-au-Prince on July 7, 2021.
Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the United States is reviewing the prime minister’s October 7th request in coordination with international partners “to determine how we best can contribute to the removal of security constraints on medical and humanitarian measures aimed at halting the spread of cholera.”
“We strongly condemn all of those who stand in the way of the equitable and immediate distribution of much-needed humanitarian supplies. This is a status quo that cannot persist,” said Price, while declining to say if the United States would consider sending forces, troops, or police to Haiti.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is backing Haiti’s call for an international armed force, providing support for the Haitian National Police.
VOA’s United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to the report.