By Brian Ellsworth
(Reuters) – The United States and Mexico said on Monday they will seek support from the United Nations for a security mission to restore order in Haiti amid a worsening humanitarian crisis, but did not identify who would lead the mission.
Haiti is facing dire shortages of basic goods and a paralysis of economic activity due to the blockade of a fuel terminal by gangs, which has halted transport and left many without food or clean drinking water amid an outbreak of cholera.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier this month suggested sending in a “rapid-action force,” according to a letter seen by Reuters.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. representative to the United Nations, said during a Security Council meeting on Monday that the resolution would propose a “carefully scoped non-U.N. mission led by a partner country with the deep and necessary experience required for such an effort to be effective.”
The Security Council is separately considering a sanctions regime to impose an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo on anyone who threatens the peace in Haiti, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Thursday.
U.S. lawmakers introduced a bill on Monday to investigate and punish any political elites colluding with the gangs.
But the administration of President Joe Biden has appeared skeptical of sending troops to Haiti, which has a long history of U.S. military intervention.
Representatives of Russia and China responded to the proposal with skepticism, noting that some Haitian leaders have openly opposed the idea of a foreign intervention and questioned the effectiveness of such a force.
“Will sending such a rapid action force to Haiti receive the understanding, support and cooperation of the parties in Haiti?” asked the representative from China. “Or will it face resistance or even trigger violent confrontation from the population?”
A U.N. peacekeeping mission known as MINUSTAH, which operated in Haiti between 2004 and 2017, faced harsh criticism over problems including its role in a 2010 cholera outbreak.
(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Miami, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)