He said citizens of the Caribbean nation are “trapped in a living nightmare” as armed gangs encircle the capital, Port-au-Prince, blocking roads, controlling access to food and healthcare, and undermining humanitarian support.
Mr. Guterres was speaking at UN Headquarters fresh from a visit to the country and a summit of regional leaders, held in Trinidad and Tobago, during which he participated in a special session on Haiti.
Terrorizing local communities
He told reporters that predatory gangs there are using kidnappings and sexual violence as weapons to terrorize entire communities.
“I have heard appalling accounts of women and girls being gang-raped, and of people being burned alive,” he said.
During his one-day visit to Haiti on Saturday, Mr. Guterres met with Prime Minister Ariel Henry and representatives from many sectors of society, acknowledging signs of hope and possibility.
Fund humanitarian ‘lifeline’
“But it requires action on several fronts – and a recognition of a core truth,” he said.
“There can be no sustainable security without a political solution that allows for the restoration of democratic institutions. And there can be no lasting and inclusive political solutions without a drastic improvement in the security situation.”
Mr. Guterres urged the international community to take action in what he called three essential areas, starting with addressing the urgent humanitarian needs in the country. A $720 million plan to support more than three million people there is currently only 23 per cent funded.
“I appeal to the world to extend a lifeline of support and fill that financial gap without delay,” he said.
Deploy multinational force
The Secretary-General also appealed to the UN Security Council “and all relevant potential contributing countries” to create the conditions for allowing the deployment of a multinational force to assist the Haitian National Police, which the Government had requested back in October.
“I repeat: We are not calling for a military or political mission of the United Nations,” he said. “We are calling for a robust security force deployed by Member States to work hand-in-hand with the Haitian National Police to defeat and dismantle the gangs and restore security across the country.”
He added that the police force will also need financing, training and equipment, which are all critical to restoring State authority and delivery of vital services.
Step up political efforts
Mr. Guterres also appealed for all social and political actors in Haiti to step up efforts toward a desperately needed political solution. He also expressed full support for mediation efforts by the regional bloc, CARICOM.
“Taken together, these three vital and simultaneous steps are fundamental to breaking Haiti’s cycle of suffering – by addressing dramatic humanitarian and security challenges – and forging a political pathway out of the crisis,” he said.
The UN Security Council will discuss the Secretary-General’s latest report on Haiti during a meeting on Thursday afternoon.