Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Letter of the Day | Haiti needs tangible support, not handouts

Published:Saturday | April 1, 2023 | 12:24 AM


This is an open letter to the prime minister and Government of Jamaica. The situation of insecurity in Haiti has caused people to be seized with a sense of urgency and desperation, if not despair, as to how to really assist in bringing about resolution to this crisis.

The Government of Jamaica has commendably voiced the willingness to become engaged, along with other CARICOM countries, in a partnership with Haitians who are working at breaking the deadlock in governance. We expect that our government’s approach will be to bring relief to all the people of Haiti, to bring justice for all the oppressed, but it is important that targeted support must especially be given to those who have felt the brunt of the deprivations caused by this prolonged period of national crisis.

The Jamaican Government has been cautioned by security experts to tread warily on sending troops to Haiti. The American, Canadian, and French governments seem to be only wanting to assist from afar and apparently hoping that the carnage in Port-au-Prince will burn itself out in due time. This appears to be a very cynical approach when we see the daily high loss of life, the rape and violence being directed toward women and children in particular, the wanton destruction of property, and the almost total breakdown of the rule of law. Our government must be encouraged to push harder for the full involvement of CARICOM. Haiti should be kept in the forefront of international affairs and high on the UN agenda, for immediate action.

As a group of concerned Christians who have been in dialogue with Haitian Christians, seeking to partner with them and others working for the restoration of peace, justice and the rule of law and social and economic development in Haiti, we wish to advance the following suggestions to our government:

- Join with your Haitian colleagues in government in Haiti and with the secretary-general of the UN and others, in calling for the mounting of a serious, substantial security presence in Haiti.

- Engage with decent Haitian grassroot leaders to bring the necessary services of health, education, and restorative justice.

- Start exploring the possibilities for increasing regional and global trade with Haiti, instead of the dependency approach which Haiti has had, with mainly disastrous consequences.

- The engagement with Haitian leadership should be on a clear, well-publicised timetable and active preparation for the holding of free and fair elections, at the earliest.

- Speak out about the obvious brain-drain approach, stripping Haiti of its best human capital, which the strong neighbours to the north are apparently presently pursuing. Shame on them!

We as Christians must commit ourselves to be consistent in interceding for the people of Haiti. We must give our government support in sensitising our people to the need and duty we have to look for ways to help our neighbour, especially in this dire time.