Responding to multidimensional crises in Haiti
One of the boldest and most consequential decisions taken in 2022 by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC), who also serves as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) for the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) in conjunction with humanitarian colleagues, was to recommence operations in Cité Soleil, one of the most vulnerable and deprived communes in the capital, Port-au-Prince, which UN agencies had been unable to access due to insecurity caused by intensifying levels of inter-gang violence.
The DSRSG/RC/HC worked alongside heads of UN agencies as well as national and international non-governmental institutions and civil society organizations to evaluate the wide-ranging needs of people living in Cité Soleil, while considering the risks faced by UN agencies to operate there.
Under her guidance, a restricted access group was established with the support of UN Police and the UN Department of Safety and Security, with national institutions, to liaise with local community leaders and negotiate safe entry. The DSRSG/RC/HC also maintained close contact with the Prime Minister to keep the Government fully informed, and with most senior leaders across the UN system to ensure the UN country team received the support needed.
The UN International Organization for Migration (UN-Migration/IOM), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have been delivering potable water, nutrition interventions, hot meals, and medical care since July 2022. Interventions are anchored in the vision of durability and identifying entry points for creating a space and partnerships for longer term reduction of violence and stability. Cité Soleil is home to some of the country’s most vulnerable people who face malnutrition and poverty as well as the increasing threat of violence, including sexual violence.
The Resident Coordinator is now involving a range of other UN agencies to address long-standing and deep-rooted structural problems related to underinvestment in and unequal access to social services, weak public policies, security, corruption, impunity and the breakdown of the justice system. The aim is also to promote the presence of public institutions to provide basic services. This will enable a path to sustainable development not just in Cité Soleil, but also for communities elsewhere in Haiti.