UN launches emergency appeal for Haiti as Benin mulls joining multinational security mission

Benin AP - Odelyn Joseph
FEB 28, 2024 LISTEN
AP - Odelyn Joseph

The United Nations has launched an urgent appeal for $674 million for humanitarian aid to Haiti, as violence in the country has lead to a severe food crisis and the deployment of a multinational security force has yet to be agreed. 

On Tuesday, the UN made the call for emergency funds to address the worsening humanitarian situation in the Caribbean nation that has been grappling with escalating violence and a dire food crisis.

With a population of over 10 million, Haiti has been entrenched in turmoil for years, marked by the dominance of armed gangs that have left both the economy and public health infrastructure in a shambles.

In 2021, the assassination of Haiti's president Jovenel Moise further exacerbated the chaos, plunging the nation into deeper disarray.

According to the UN, the collapse of essential services, prolonged drought, and recurrent natural disasters has rendered 5.5 million Haitians highly vulnerable.

The United Nations has also highlighted that 45 percent of the population is currently affected by extreme food insecurity, with 250,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition.

Benin and Haiti

This comes as recent developments at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) summit in Guyana have shown some progress in tackling Haiti's security predicament.

On Monday, US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced at the summit that Benin "has offered up to 2,000 troops" for a multi-national security force meant to help overwhelmed Haitian police regain control.

Emphasising the urgency of the situation, stakeholders at the CARICOM summit underlined the need for the swift deployment of a UN-authorised Multinational Security Support mission to facilitate the restoration of peace, ensure the conduct of free and fair elections, and alleviate the spiralling humanitarian crisis there.

Although the UN Security Council has sanctioned the deployment of a multinational security force for Haiti to be headed by a military contingent from Kenya, logistical challenges, legal hurdles, and insufficient funding have delayed the mission to date.

The potential involvement of French-speaking Benin would facilitate communication and collaboration in addressing the crisis in Haiti, with Cotonou having previously contributed to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti – Minustah.