Blinken says crisis in Haiti is 'long unfolding story' as US pledges millions to help stabilize country

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the crisis in Haiti “has been a long unfolding story” that will require coordination from the international community to solve. 

The suffering of the Haitian people, Blinken said, can only be solved by a functioning democracy as well as humanitarian and developmental assistance to rebuild the economy. 

antony blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a news conference at the State Department Harry S. Truman headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“Fundamentally, we need to see security, because it’s very hard to do either of the first two things in an environment that is profoundly insecure,” Blinken said. 

In recent weeks, Haiti has been overrun by gangs, effectively shutting the country off from the rest of the world. 

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The attacks began when Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry was in Kenya to push for the U.N.-backed deployment of a Kenyan police force — which has been temporarily suspended. 

Since late last month, armed men in the capital of Port-au-Prince have set fire to police stations and stormed the country’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates. Among those who fled are gang leaders of at least seven communities, according to a new report by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, known as BINUH.

Haiti gang

Masked members of the “G9 and Family” gang stand guard during a press conference by their leader Barbecue in the Delmas 6 neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 5. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

As of Sunday, gunmen had attacked, looted or torched at least 30 state institutions, more than 600 homes and private businesses and nearly 500 public and private vehicles, BINUH said.

Gangs also have attacked neighborhoods in a rampage that has left scores dead and more than 15,000 homeless. More than 130 people were killed between Feb. 27 and March 8. 

HAITI’S FUTURE GOVERNANCE FACES STRUGGLE BETWEEN POLITICAL POWER AND GANG INFLUENCE

Blinken met with Caribbean leaders in Jamaica earlier this week to search for a solution to the crisis. 

Officials came up with a plan to install a temporary presidential council responsible for selecting an interim prime minister and a council of ministers that would attempt to chart a new path. By Wednesday, however, the plan was showing some cracks after some political parties signaled their disapproval. 

Harvey, who has been stuck in Puerto Rico, said Tuesday he would resign once the council was in place, saying that his government “cannot remain insensitive to this situation.”

HAITI UNREST

A policeman throws tear gas as people demonstrate over the rise in the cost of living in Petit-Goâve, Haiti, on Sept. 14, 2023. (RICHARD PIERRIN/AFP via Getty Images)

The nine-member council has seven positions with voting powers. The remaining two nonvoting positions would go to a member of Haiti’s civil society and its religious sector.

It was not immediately clear who would be awarded a position on the council if it was rejected by certain political parties.

Blinken said he had spoken with Kenyan President William Ruto, who confirmed his country’s preparedness to lead a mission into Haiti once the council is established. 

Blinken also reiterated the U.S. pledge of $300 million to support a multinational security mission to Haiti. That includes $200 million from the Department of Defense and another $100 coming from the rest of the U.S. government. 

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“Having done all this work, we should be in a place where that mission goes forward,” Blinken said. “It will, we believe, help reestablish security and take back control of the country from gangs.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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