Haiti to seek foreign military assistance to combat gangs, official says

Oct 7 (Reuters) – Haiti has decided to request military assistance from the international community to help with a humanitarian crisis caused by a blockade of the country’s main fuel port which has led to crippling shortages, a Haitian official said on Friday.

Haiti has ground to a halt since a coalition of gangs blocked the Varreux fuel terminal last month. The lack of gas and diesel has crippled transportation and forced businesses and hospitals to halt operations.

It has also led to a shortage of bottled water, just as the country confirmed a new outbreak of cholera, the spread of which is controlled through hygiene and clean water.

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“It was decided in the Council of Ministers last night … to request military assistance to the international community to deal with such an unbelievable humanitarian crisis,” a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Henry wrote in a text message.

The news was first reported by the Miami Herald.

It was not immediately evident which nations would receive such a request.

The United Nations has not received an official request from the Haitian government, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.

“That being said, we remain extremely concerned about the security situation in Haiti, the impact it’s having on the Haitian people, on our ability to do our work, especially in the humanitarian sphere,” Dujarric told reporters.

The US State Department and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday tweeted that the United States remains “committed to helping Haiti restore security and democratic order.”

Canada’s foreign ministry on Friday said that 19 member countries of the Organization of American States, which is meeting in Peru, jointly affirmed solidarity with Haiti.

The statement said those countries were committed to helping Haitians “overcome the complex security challenges facing the country.”

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Reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Miami, additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York, Humeyra Pamuk in Lima, Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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