© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People fleeing gang violence seek refuge at a sports arena in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on September 1, 2023. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol/File photo

(Reuters) – The head of Haiti’s Transitional Democratic Council called for action on Monday on a plan to send foreign troops to the Caribbean island nation to help police restore security amid a worsening conflict as powerful gangs force around 200,000 people to flee forced out of their homes.

“I sincerely hope that the United Nations Security Council will put its words into action,” Mirlande Manigat, chair of the High Transition Council (HTC), told the Security Council.

“Foreign troops to support the national police is something that many Haitians are waiting for, including those who have fallen victim,” Manigat said, calling for the force to prioritize protecting the vulnerable and take more action against arms trafficking.

A year ago, Haiti’s unelected prime minister called for an international force to help police – staffed by powerful gangs armed with huge stocks of firearms that the UN says come mostly from the United States – in restoring order.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry has promised to hold elections as soon as security is restored. The HTC is participating in efforts to prepare for elections but has suffered setbacks, including the kidnapping of its general secretary last week.

“His abduction was certainly not accidental,” Manigat said, without providing further details.

According to estimates by the United Nations, which ratified the deployment of an international force earlier this month, the gangs have continued to expand their territory and around two million people now live within their control. But only a few countries have pledged troops.

Diplomats in the Security Council on Monday called on countries that have signed up to submit required documents before deployment, including rules of engagement and exit strategies.

The head of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, Catherine Russell, said the force would play a “crucial role” in restoring social services, saying aid was also suffering from drastically underfunded campaigns.

“Frankly, we need more support,” Russell told diplomats. “The international community should prioritize increasing flexible humanitarian financing.”

Source : www.investing.com

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