Haiti crisis mired by the past: UN child sex and cholera scandals
Kanako Mita, Sawako Utsumi, and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Criminality, poverty, health issues, a limited functioning state, political paralysis, gang violence, and limited employment opportunities to escape the cycle of poverty all blight Haiti. The nation is also hit by nature – from earthquakes to hurricanes.
The history of the United Nations in Haiti is also a cause of pain and suffering. Sri Lankan peacekeepers, for example, were involved in child sex gangs. Cholera was also spread by peacekeepers from Nepal.
According to an internal UN report – a sex ring (2004-2007) was involved in the systematic sexual abuse of nine children. The findings specified that 134 peacekeepers from Sri Lanka were abusing the same children.
Other UN peacekeeping troops were also involved in child sexual abuse. This includes rape, sexual exploitation, and other brutal deeds over many years. Reuters reports, “Girls as young as 11 were sexually abused and impregnated by U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti and abandoned to raise their children alone, according to testimonies from more than 2,000 residents.”
Oxfam and other charities have also been involved in child abuse scandals in Haiti and other nations – similar to UN peacekeeping missions. The BBC reports, “Claims first emerged in The Times last year that Oxfam employees, including former country director Roland van Hauwermeiren, used young prostitutes while based in Haiti after the earthquake.”
Haitian girls and young women gave birth to children in the hundreds connected to UN peacekeepers from various nations. The highest number in order applies to UN peacekeepers from Uruguay, Brazil, don’t know, Chile, Argentina, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Canada, Jordan, Bolivia, France, Nigeria, Senegal, and other nations.
Brazil and Uruguay contributed higher numbers to the international UN force – with Brazil being the highest. Therefore, similar to other international UN sex scandals, it highlights that the UN itself is the problem because it does too little to prosecute rapists, child abusers, and sex traffickers.
AP reports (2017), “In March, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced new measures to tackle sexual abuse and exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers and other personnel. But the proclamation had a depressingly familiar ring: More than a decade ago, the United Nations commissioned a report that promised to do much the same thing, yet most of the reforms never materialized… For a full two years after those promises were made, the children in Haiti were passed around from soldier to soldier. And in the years since, peacekeepers have been accused of sexual abuse the world over.”
Bob Corker, the former United States Senator for Tennessee – concerning another horrendous UN child sex scandal in the Central African Republic – said, “If I heard that a U.N. peacekeeping mission was coming near my home in Chattanooga… I’d be on the first plane out of here to go back and protect my family.”
The UN was also in denial about spreading cholera and killing approximately 8,300 Haitians. The New York Times (2012) reports: “In telling the truth, the U.N. could have gained the trust of the population and facilitated the fight against cholera,” said Dr. Renaud Piarroux, who led an early investigation into the outbreak. “But that was bungled.”
Dr. Piarroux and other colleagues categorically conclude that: “…the onset of cholera in Haiti was not due to climatic factors and was not the direct consequence of the January 2010 earthquake. All of the scientific evidence shows that cholera was brought by a contingent of soldiers traveling from a country experiencing a cholera epidemic. Understanding what triggered the epidemic is important for preventing future occurrences, and acknowledges the right of Haitians to understand the events that lead to their cholera devastation.”
2022 and Haiti crisis
Haiti now needs help. However, with past experiences being extremely negative, it is only natural that Haitians fear international forces from the UN.
Foreign Policy reports, “Haiti is again embroiled in crisis. Gangs are fighting for territory in large swaths of the capital, Port-au-Prince, outgunning the hobbled Haitian police. Kidnappings and killings have spiked. Many refugees have fled only to be sent back unceremoniously by the United States. The probe into the 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has stalled, while an unelected government led by acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry clings to power with no elections in sight.”
Henry and other officials requested support from the international community to quell the cycle of violence. The statement said Haiti needs “the immediate deployment of a specialized armed force, in sufficient quantity, to stop the ‘criminal actions’ of armed gangs across the country.”
Reuters reports, “The U.N. Security Council on Friday approved sanctions allowing it to impose an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo on anyone who threatens the peace or stability of Haiti, naming the Caribbean country’s most powerful gangster as its first target.”
The BBC reports, “The UN has since called for the immediate deployment of a special international armed force to Haiti, but it is not yet clear which countries would provide the members of such a force and what its task would be.”
America and Canada have sent security equipment to Haiti. Both nations issued a joint statement saying, “This equipment will assist the HNP [Haitian National Police] in their fight against criminal actors who are fomenting violence and disrupting the flow of critically-needed humanitarian assistance, hindering efforts to halt the spread of cholera.”
Haiti is the poorest nation regionally and one of the poorest in the world. Recent child deaths from cholera, malnourishment in parts of Haiti, and other health concerns are alarming. However, past shameful child abuse scandals have left behind memories of fear.
CBC News says, “Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is facing an acute political, economic, security and health crisis, with a cholera epidemic now looming. The circumstances that have paralyzed the country and sparked a breakdown of law and order.”
Protests continue in Port-au-Prince against the deployment of international forces. The situation is extremely complex. Therefore, the solution is nigh impossible to please the majority of Haitians – given past experiences.
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