The UN has made a step, but Haiti needs much more
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WE feel a tinge of encouragement by the release of US$5 million by the United Nations on August 19 to help meet desperate humanitarian needs caused by gang violence in Haiti.

But even the UN has admitted that this gesture is not enough, given that an estimated 4.9 million people, or nearly half the population of that Caribbean nation, are in need humanitarian assistance.

However, we acknowledge that it's a start as the UN has said that the funds will help aid agencies provide urgently needed food, drinking water, health care, education and mental health support for more than 100,000 people.

It was only three weeks ago that we appealed, in this space, to the international community to offer assistance to the Haitian people, many of whom are being subjected to gang violence.

News reports out of that country tell us that since July, hundreds of people have been killed in clashes between gangs in Cite Soleil, while many others have been injured or are now missing. Additionally, we have received reports of gangs recruiting children, and, even worse, accounts by Mr Jens Laerke, the spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, that "sexual violence has been endemic" amid the violence.

Just last week we heard of a mother and her two daughters shot dead in their motor vehicle during a shoot-out between rival gangs, and the vehicle set ablaze with their bodies inside.

A report published in last Wednesday's Jamaica Observer also highlighted the murders of three taxi-motorcycle drivers and two residents. For what reason? Being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In this kind of environment we are not surprised to learn that boys are being recruited into gangs. Media have also reported that thousands of people, including children, have fled their homes, and at least 140 houses have been destroyed or razed.

The country is still in shock at the brazen murder of a police inspector by armed men inside a church on Sunday, July 24 this year; as well as the storming of a hospital in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince by gunmen who dragged a patient outside and shot him dead. Haiti, as we pointed out two weeks ago, has been plunged into anarchy as the gangs are operating with impunity.

Outside of the dire need for more humanitarian assistance. Haiti's governance institutions, especially in the area of law and order, need strengthening. We acknowledge that many of the countries that can indeed offer help are facing their own challenges recovering from the social and economic effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Also, some of those states are now staring down the barrel of an economic recession.

But Haiti is a member of the international community crying out for help.

It cannot be beyond rich nations, particularly France which exacted the most brutal economic punishment on Haiti for decades, to provide both technical and economic assistance that could contribute to some form of stability.

Haiti, we reiterate, is populated by human beings, and people should not be left to languish in the conditions that exist there.

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