WASHINGTON – The United States reportedly has no military plan for Haiti after a request to send troops to that country following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, but has agreed to offer immediate aid in the investigation.
Haiti on Wednesday called on the United States and the United Nations to deploy troops to the country to protect key infrastructure in a conversation between Haiti’s Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to Haitian election minister Mathias Pierre, who spoke to media, including Reuters and Agence France-Presse.
Haiti calls on US and UN troops to secure infrastructure
Haiti’s minister of elections said the request to the United States was directed to the secretary of state
The minister said Joseph requested UN troops from the UN Security Council on Thursday.
“We were in a situation where we thought the country’s infrastructure – port, airport and energy infrastructure – could be a target,” Minister Pierre told Reuters.
Reuters quoted an unnamed senior US administration official on Friday as saying the US has no plans to provide military assistance to Haiti “at this time.”
The UN did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.
Earlier on Friday, the Biden administration said it was sending senior officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in response to a request from the Haitian government for security and investigation assistance. .
US sends FBI and Homeland Security officials to aid Haiti
White House press secretary says aid is in response to Haiti’s request for security and investigative assistance following presidential assassination
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that US officials “will assess the situation and how we may be able to help.”
“The United States remains engaged in close consultations with our Haitian and international partners to support the Haitian people in the aftermath of the assassination of the president,” she said.
Haiti has been in turmoil since Moise was shot dead in his private residence early Wednesday. Acting Prime Minister Joseph has said he is in charge. Haitian authorities have requested US assistance in maintaining security and assistance in the investigation to find those responsible for the assassination.
Police said on Friday that a 28-member assassination team of Colombians and Americans was responsible for the attack, but a search continued for its organizers.
Colombian police said on Friday that at least 13 former Colombian soldiers were allegedly involved.
Haitian National Police Chief Léon Charles told reporters on Friday that 17 suspects had been apprehended, including two Americans.
Three suspects were killed and at least five are still at large, police said.
Haitian officials: 17 members of Hit Squad detained in murder of president
Haitian police said a heavily armed group that included two Americans and 26 Colombians was involved in the assassination; 17 of these people were detained
The director of the Colombian national police, General Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia, told a press conference in Bogota on Friday that four companies had participated in the “recruitment” of Colombian suspects. He did not disclose the names of the companies because their names were still being confirmed.
Bocchit Edmond, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, sent a letter to Blinken asking for sanctions against those involved in the crime.
“We further call on the Biden administration to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act on all perpetrators who are directly responsible for or aided and abetted in carrying out the assassination of the president. We look forward to working with the United States Embassy in Port-au-Prince as we seek truth and justice for President Moise’s family and the people of Haiti, ”the letter said.
Haiti will receive $ 75.5 million in US aid this year, Psaki said, for “democratic governance, health, education, agricultural development, strengthening of pre-election activities, strengthening of peace and law application “. She said building “law enforcement capabilities” remains a key priority for the United States.
The Biden administration has earmarked $ 5 million for the Haitian National Police (PNH), which is already receiving assistance from the State Department’s Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. The money will be used to crack down on gang violence.
Haitian police have been criticized in recent years for human rights violations, corruption and mismanagement of resources.
On the immigration front, the White House press secretary said the United States has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible Haitians currently living in the United States. The decision was announced by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in May.
To help Haiti fight a wave of COVID-19 that began last month, Psaki said the United States plans to deliver coronavirus vaccines to Haiti “as early as next week.” Haiti’s airports were closed hours after the president’s assassination as law enforcement sought to cut off evacuation routes to potential suspects. Psaki said vaccine delivery would depend on the status of the airport.
In remarks to reporters on Friday, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric expressed concern about the possible humanitarian implications the current crisis could have on the Haitian people.
“Our colleagues tell us that following the assassination of the president, efforts to respond to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the country are at risk,” Dujarric said. “The situation also threatens efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, especially food and water, to those internally displaced by recent gang attacks.
Dujarric said humanitarian aid flights scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday have been canceled.
Helen La Lime, the special representative of the UN secretary general in Haiti, has been in contact with Haitian officials, the spokesperson told reporters, and is pushing for “an inclusive political compromise” to resolve the political crisis and maintain stability.
Meanwhile in Tabarre, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, dozens of Haitians gathered outside the United States embassy to seek political asylum.
“Whenever there is a disaster in Haiti, people always seek refuge at the embassy. People don’t feel safe, that’s why they are here, ”said a man who did not give his name to VOA Creole. He said some people arrived on Thursday evening.
When asked if anyone from the embassy had come out to speak with the group, the man said no.
“If something happens, they will stay here and if they have the option to leave the country, they will leave,” the man said.
This story includes information from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.
Patsy, White House correspondent , Margaret, United Nations correspondent , Vilme in Port-au-Prince, Haiti contributed to this report.