Guterres urges more support for Haiti

The report card on Haiti is not good.

United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who is a special guest at the 45th Regular Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of CARICOM, gave the update from Trinidad and Tobago on Monday evening.

“Excellencies, I am coming here from Haiti,” he reported during the Opening Ceremony. “The security situation is appalling, the humanitarian needs are soaring and there is not yet a full political solution in sight, but I came with hope and optimism.

“It is impossible to look at the crisis without seeing the long shadow of centuries of colonial exploitation, extortion, dictatorship and other screaming injustices. We must help ease the suffering of the Haitian people. And I want to remind that our humanitarian appeal is only funded at 23 per cent. It is a tragedy within a tragedy,” he gravely declared.

Guterres acknowledged the role CARICOM was playing by hosting a High-Level Meeting in Jamaica and promised to use his office to effect a response on the global stage.

“I will continue to push for a robust international security force authorised by the Security Council to be able to help the Haitian National Police to defeat and dismantle the gangs. I reiterate my call to all partners to increase support to the national police in the form of financing, training and equipment.”

He stressed there had to be an improvement in the security in order for the democracy to be strong. One could not work without the other.

Guterres said the challenges in Haiti requires solidity and engagement and that fuelled the founding spirit of CARICOM. Over the years, this has been demonstrated in the fight for social and economic development, the fight against illegal drugs and arms trafficking, as well as Non-Communicable Diseases, climate change and global financing, among others.

As CARICOM prepares to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. Guterres said this was a time to reflect on the challenges facing the region.

“COVID-19 has destroyed lives and livelihoods independently of our extraordinary response. Tourism and export receipts temporarily collapsed, prices for fuel and food sky-rocketed. Debt burdens grew heavier, liquidity dried up and access to global capital markets worsened dramatically. All the while, the climate emergency continues to escalate, threatening the very existence of small island and low-lying coastal states,” he noted.

Guterres said action was needed on two fronts – fix global finance and address the climate crisis.

He said the current situation revealed the world’s financial system was “outdated, dysfunctional and unfair”. He singled out Caribbean leaders like Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and her Jamaican counterpart, Andrew Holness, through the Bridgetown Initiative and Finance for Development Initiative, respectively.

He has put forward his own agenda to help in both instances with measures to spur change in the capital markets and limit the rise in global temperature by capping emissions.

In closing, Guterres pledged his support to the Caribbean region. (SAT)

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