Chairman: Caricom may send troops to stabilise Haiti

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: Police patrol after recovering the bodies of slain journalists in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on January 7, 2022. AP PHOTO –

CARICOM countries could well agree to send troops to unrest-hit Haiti if accompanied by personnel from bigger countries, hinted Caricom chairman Philip Davis to reporters on Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday’s opening of 44th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom in The Bahamas.

His support followed a February 1 pledge by Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness to the Jamaica Parliament to send soldiers and police to Haiti as part of any eventual multinational security force, in reply to Haitian Government’s calls for help since last October.

Davis said, “It will not be the first time that we as a country will have provided assistance by allowing members of our defence force to go into Haiti to provide peace-keeping initiatives. So, in that regard we are discussing doing the same thing again if called on to do so.

“That will be, though, with the assistance and being led by one of the powers that be as may occur.”

He said Caricom countries do not have the resources to do this on their own, but needed assistance.

“Once we have identified assistance we are prepared to do our part to ensure stability is obtained in Haiti.”

Davis remarked, “The resources required to bring stability to Haiti are not in the remit of Caricom at all, individually or collectively.”

He said a solution needed the inputs of others and that Caricom was now looking towards the US and Canada. He said the goal was to stabilise Haiti and hold elections to provide a government that was free of fear and violence. While urging inputs from Caricom, Canada and the US, he said efforts must result in a Haitian-led solution, to be sustainable. Philip, when asked if it was unsafe to visit Haiti, said the instability did not make anyone feel safe.

Saying people should not be reluctant to help Haiti, he said, “It has to start somewhere. Hopefully this time…If it is Haitian-led it can be sustained.”

Caricom secretary general Dr Carla Barnett told reporters Haitian Government representatives will attend the Caricom meeting.

TT’s Prime Minister is also expected to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Barnett said an increased flow of Haitian migrants to nearby territories recently was a reflection of instability in Haiti, and it was hard to solve migration without first addressing instability. She said, “Caricom is talking about bringing together all parties.”

The briefing heard that Wednesday’s meeting would include Canada President Justin Trudeau, plus a video-link message from Ukraine President Volodimir Zelensky.

Davis said Caricom stood by to play whatever role it could to help end “that sad event” refering to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine.

He said the US and Canada have been re-engaging the Caribbean as never before, in areas such as energy, food and health.

Davis said the talks will also focus on covid19, climate change and food security, even as he also lamented the inflow of illicit firearms to The Bahamas from the US.