Belmopan – Minister for National Defence, Florencio Marin, has confirmed that Belizean soldiers will join the Kenya-led United Nations security mission to Haiti.
Marin said everything has not yet been decided but at least 50 soldiers and coastguards will be deployed as the country’s representatives on the mission.
“Our Belize Defence Force and our Coast Guard are beginning to make the necessary preparations for when the time comes. I will leave that up to the general and the admiral to make the decision of who best should go.
Marin said Belize is awaiting more information from the mission such as the role the soldiers will play in Haiti as part of the mission, after which decisions will be taken as to who would be best suited to go.
“We have begun to make all the necessary preparations. They are planning what is needed. The cost, the training, the equipment, all these works have to be going before we can actually deploy the troops.”
But opposition leader Shyne Barrow said Belize should solve its gang problems first before venturing to Haiti.
“So when it comes to sending BDF soldiers to Haiti, we need to take care of Belize, we need to fix the gang problem in Belize before we can venture on to Haiti.
Barrow acknowledged that though he understands that Belize is “part of CARICOM and so it is something that needs to be considered, but I would ask the government to consider fixing the gang problem here in Belize before they could try to put our soldiers in harm’s way in Haiti.”
“Before we send fifty soldiers to Haiti, put fifty soldiers at the Sarstoon. Put a makeshift FOB at the Sarstoon,” Barrow said in reference to the continued tensions between Belize and Guatemala over the Sarstoon River border.
“You want to go to Haiti, meanwhile at the Sarstoon the Guatemalan Armed Forces are taking our flags on the Tenth of September? The Guatemalan Armed Forces are harassing and intimidating our Belizean women, men and children, but you wahn goh da Haiti? Mek wi fix weh di happen da Sarstoon.”
Haiti has been under siege as violence escalates between gangs vying for power. Hundreds and thousands of Haitians have been displaced due to gang violence following the assassination of President Jovenel Moiise, in 2021.
International organisations say the increased violence has impeded access to healthcare facilities, forced the closure of schools and clinics, and worsened already dire food insecurity by cutting residents of gang-controlled areas off from critical supplies. (CMC)