SECRETARY BLINKEN: Brian, thank you very much. And good morning, everyone, and good morning, colleagues. Prime Minister, welcome. It’s very good to have everyone around this table in this moment, and I think it is a critical moment.
We all know that the situation in Haiti is dire: more than 2,000 killings in the first six months of this year; more than 1,000 kidnappings in the same period; over five million Haitians who urgently need humanitarian assistance; tens of thousands of Haitians facing catastrophic hunger; nearly 60,000 suspected cholera cases. Nearly half of those cases are children.
When we recite these statistics, I think we have to remember what they mean, what the reality on the ground looks like, for the Haitian people, because it’s easy to get lost in numbers and abstractions. These are real lives, and the effects are profound.
For residents in communes like Cité Soleil or Cabaret, it means – as a practical matter – that clean drinking water and electricity have been cut off for more than a year. It means shuttered hospitals and health clinics. It means people going days without having a single meal. It means parents not being able to send kids to school. It means minors subjected to forced conscription by gangs, and women to widespread sexual violence. Wandering outside the neighborhood – to shop for groceries, to look for work – can be, and often is, a death sentence.
The United States is the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Haiti. We’re bolstering the Haitian National Police. And since July of 2021, we have invested over $120 million to strengthen its capacity to try to counter the gangs and stabilize the security environment. We’re taking meaningful action to address the scourge of illegal weapons flowing into Haiti. We are providing humanitarian support – more than $205 million over the last two years. We’re using sanctions and visa restrictions to hold accountable those who are financing the gangs.
The United States is committed to continuing and building on these efforts. Today, we’re taking steps to impose additional visa restrictions on current and former Haitian officials who are enabling the violence. With that step, we’ve designated more than 50 individuals.
We’re also announcing an additional $65 million to further professionalize the Haitian National Police and strengthen its capacity to dismantle the gangs and to safeguard communities.
Having said all that, we also know that more – much more – from all of us is needed. That’s especially true, given the recent closure of all border crossings between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We encourage the parties to reach an agreement as soon as possible, and in the meantime, we urge the creation of a humanitarian carve-out that allows for the delivery of food and medical supplies.
For aid to flow where it’s needed, for the conditions Haitians need to be able to improve, for crucial political dialogue to be made possible, we know fundamentally that the security situation has to be stabilized.
As the Haitian National Police works to get to full strength and capacity, security assistance from international partners can play a critical bridging role. That’s why the United States supports the UN-backed Multinational Security Support mission. The Government of Haiti, Haitian civil society, the UN secretary general, the Organization of American States, CARICOM, and other international partners have each called for such a mission.
The proposal for this mission now before the UN Security Council is designed to be truly multinational in its resourcing and nature. It requires a collective effort if it’s going to succeed. And already, countries around the world are stepping up.
We welcome and appreciate the Kenyan Government’s willingness to serve as the lead nation of this mission. Kenya recently concluded an assessment visit, which we look forward to hearing about today. We support Kenya’s vision for a three-part security mission: providing operational support to the Haitian National Police to combat the gangs, ensuring static security of key installations and thoroughfares, and strengthening the Haitian National Police for the long term. Yesterday I had a chance to meet with President Ruto, and discussed that vision – and, again, greatly appreciate Kenya’s leadership.
We also thank Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, and Jamaica, which have all pledged personnel for this mission.
The United States stands ready to support a Multinational Security Support mission by providing robust financial and logistical assistance. We intend to work with our Congress to provide $100 million in support, and our Department of Defense is prepared to provide robust enabling support – including planning assistance, intelligence support, airlift, communications, and medical support.
We urge the international community to pledge additional personnel, as well as equipment, logistics, training, and funding. We cannot be successful without these contributions.
And we strongly urge the Security Council to pass a resolution to authorize this mission. A Chapter VII UN Security Council resolution is a legal requirement for many countries, if they’re going to participate. And we know their willingness to do so, but they need the backing of a Chapter VII resolution. As President Biden told the General Assembly this week, “The people of Haiti cannot wait much longer.”
The United States is working with Ecuador to put forward a text. As we do, we remain mindful of the lessons learned from previous missions in Haiti, including the need to safeguard human rights and to promote accountability. We also recognize that improved security must be accompanied by real progress to resolve the political crisis. The support mission will not be a substitute for political progress. Indeed, it can help create space for Haiti to move forward.
With our support, this mission can deploy within months – and we really have no time to lose. We can and we must do what’s necessary to make that happen. The safety, the security, the future of the Haitian people – and people across the region – depend on the urgency of our action. And that’s why it’s so important that we’re all here today. And even more important is what we do coming out of today to be able to move forward.
Thank you very much.