National protests, initially sparked by the nearly doubling of gasoline prices, have led the Caribbean country to what the UN has described as a “standstill”.”
Haiti is grappling with multiple crises of an economic, political, security and humanitarian nature.
The country’s president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated last July, and in August an earthquake caused widespread death and destruction in the southern regions of the Caribbean island nation.
Heavily armed violent gangs have taken over large parts of the capital Port-au-Prince and regularly kidnap locals for ransom. Gunshots have been heard in the city all week, according to news reports.
In a statement on behalf of the UN Secretary-General: Antonio Guterres, mr. Dujarric, said the UN chief “especially concerned with the safety of all Haitians, including the most vulnerable, and calls for calm and maximum restraint.
“He urges all relevant stakeholders to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation, avoid violence and allow the Haitian National Police to fulfill its role to protect the population.”
The UN chief also called on “all stakeholders to rise above their differences and engage without further delay.” peaceful and inclusive dialogue on a constructive way forward”.
He warned that if current conditions continue, “the already dire humanitarian situation facing Haiti’s most vulnerable people will worsen.”
UN warehouse looted
On Thursday, a warehouse used by the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) in Gonaïves in the north of the country was looted and then set ablaze by rioters.
The food aid agency’s country director, Jean-Martin Bauer, described the incident as “simply unacceptable. The looted food was intended to feed nearly 100,000 schoolchildren by the end of the year and provide emergency relief to Haiti’s most vulnerable familieshe said in a statement.
“WFP is in Haiti to support vulnerable communities in dire need while strengthening local production and livelihoods through our long-term resilience initiatives.”
Staff is ready
The UN said its staff and partners remain on the ground and ready to help those in need across the country.
However, shortages of funding and difficult relief logistics – including risks to ground deliveries – mean that WFP will likely struggle to deliver aid in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Fiona has formed in the Caribbean and could hit Haiti on Monday.