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UN Security Council agrees sanctions targeting Haiti gangs

#Security #Council #agrees #sanctions #targeting #Haiti #gangs

The UN Security Council on Friday agreed unanimously on a sanctions regime targeting the gangs terrorizing the population in Haiti — including an asset freeze on a powerful gang leader.

The Council has been debating for two weeks how best to address a spiraling health and security crisis in the poorest country in the Americas, which is battling a fast-growing outbreak of cholera.

After failing to reach consensus on sending an international force to the crisis-hit nation, members adopted a resolution Friday directly targeting the gangs that have seized control of the main port and blocked fuel deliveries.

It includes a one-year freeze on all economic resources owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by Jimmy Cherizier, nicknamed “Barbecue,” the head of the “G90 Family and Allies” group of gangs blockading the main oil terminal in the poorest country in the Americas.

The resolution demanded an “immediate cessation of violence, criminal activities, and human rights abuses” in Haiti, including kidnappings, sexual violence, human trafficking and the gang recruitment of children.

The council also called for a one-year travel ban against people deemed to be involved in gang activity in Haiti and a ban on arms and ammunition being allowed to reach them.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned this week that the deterioration of Haiti’s security and health environment as gangs expand their control has produced “an absolutely nightmarish situation.”

I’m talking of something to be done based on strict humanitarian criteria, independent of the political dimensions of the problem that needs to be solved by the Haitians themselves,” Guterres said. 

He warned the gangs’ control of the port and fuel blockade risks worsening the cholera oubreak by preventing the distribution of water, since the most important treatment for cholera is hydration.

“This resolution is an initial answer to the calls for help from the Haitian people,” the US envoy to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said in a statement welcoming its adoption.

– Cholera cases near 1,000 –

Cherizier, a former police officer, is the only gang-related person singled out by name in the resolution.

“Jimmy Cherizier has engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Haiti and has planned, directed or committed acts that constitute serious human right abuses,” the document states.

It listed a series of his alleged actions, including taking part — as a Haitian National Police officer — in a 2018 attack on civilians in Port au Prince slum called La Saline in which at least 71 people died and 400 houses were destroyed.

Throughout that year and the next he led his group in “coordinated, brutal” attacks in areas of the capital, it said.

And the resolution says that since October 11 of this year Cherizier and his gang have been blocking shipments from Haiti’s largest fuel terminal.

“His actions have directly contributed to the economic paralysis and humanitarian crisis in Haiti,” the resolution charges.

Hundreds of suspected cholera cases have been recorded in Haiti since the beginning of the month — fueling fears of a devastating resurgence of the disease in the Caribbean nation.

Health ministry data showed 964 suspected cases as of October 19.

Haiti suffered a cholera epidemic between 2010 and 2019 that was accidentally introduced by UN peacekeeping troops and killed more than 10,000 people.

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