Haitians must be at centre of solving their own problems – Holness Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that Haitians must take the lead in resolving the multiple crises besetting their country.

Holness made the remarks on Monday as he addressed the media following a high stakes meeting Jamaica hosted at the Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

The meeting, which was called by the Chairman of CARICOM, Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali, to discuss the deteriorating situation in Haiti, was also attended by representatives of several other CARICOM countries, the United States, including that country’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken; France, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the discussions virtually.

“We can agree that Haitian voices must be central to any deliberations towards a resolution of the situation. The Haitian people must feel and know that they are a vital part of the process, having ownership in its planning and implementation,” Holness stated.

He added that “We who have agreed to facilitate consensus, will do an injustice to the people of Haiti if we ourselves are unable to move forward with urgency and resolve.”

Holnes lamented that despite sustained efforts and attempts made over many decades by Haitians, by members of CARICOM, and by the international community to find a solution to the political, security and humanitarian crisis, “the situation in Haiti continues to worsen on the ground, especially over the last few weeks.”

He said following sustained attacks on individuals and institutions, it is clear that Haiti is now at a tipping point.

“CARICOM and our regional partners are deeply concerned, as are our international partners here present and beyond,” said Holness.

He shared that CARICOM heads have been engaged in discussions which deepened over the past week, culminating in Monday’s meeting in Kingston. He said strong and decisive action, owned by the people of Haiti, must be taken to stem the sea of lawlessness and hopelessness in that country before it is too late.

“We’re deeply distressed that already it is too late for too many who have lost far too much at the hands of criminal gangs,” he added.

Holness said the fear that the situation in Haiti is worsening to become a civil war is now a real one. He said CARICOM heads are agreed that this cannot be allowed to happen in the hemisphere “with our longstanding democratic tradition and reputation as a zone of peace”.

He also lamented that despite help over many years to develop its institutions and its people, Haiti is now in need of new, cohesive and domestic resolve and the requisite support from its partners.

“The people of Haiti deserve the opportunity to experience another way of being, to determine their destiny, to secure their rights, and to be free from oppressive forces within and without,” Holness said.

He emphasised that the UN Security Council-approved multinational security support mission to Haiti is a critical and necessary first step to restore basic law and order and provide an environment of stability to allow for the distribution of assistance and the crafting of medium and long-term solutions.