Haitian prime minister calls to mobilize armed forces to fight gangs

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, indicated on Friday that he wants mobilize the Haitian armed forces to assist the National Police to fight the increasingly powerful gangs.

During a visit to the headquarters of the Haitian Armed Forces, Henry said that he intends to mobilize all of the nation’s security forces in the fight against the violence generated by these criminal groups.

He made his comments at a time when Haiti and some United Nations officials continue to press the international community to deploy foreign soldiers to help curb widespread violence.

“What we are experiencing today is not a joke”, Henry stated.

Jean Robenson Servilius, who works in the Haitian Defense Ministry press office, confirmed to The Associated Press that officials are working on plans to activate the military. He said the Armed Forces currently have about 2,000 soldiers and are recruiting more. They have been trained by experts from Argentina, Mexico and Colombia, he added.

Robenson said he could not provide further details.

Haiti’s armed forces were disbanded in 1995 after they participated in several coups and were accused of other political interference. President Jovenel Moïse reinstated them in 2017 after the UN ended its peacekeeping operation in Haiti. Moïse was murdered in 2021.

Since then they have played a limited role, including providing protection to the prime minister.

“Are we willing to work hand in hand with the police force in the fight against insecurity?” Henry asked during his visit to the military headquarters.

It was not immediately clear when the army would be reactivated, how many soldiers would be called up and what role they would play. But Henry stressed that his help was needed.

“The Haiti we want cannot be built with gangs proliferating everywhere. They must come to their senses, or we will make them see reason in spite of themselves.” stated.

The gangs control approximately 60% of the capital Port-au-Prince, and in recent months have killed hundreds of people in their fight to control more territory following the assassination of Moïse at his residence in July 2021. Tens of thousands of Haitians have been displaced due to the violence, which, according to the UN, has reached levels not seen in decades.

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