Haiti’s Prime Minister ready to mobilize military

April 15, 2023  -Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry signaled Friday that he wants to mobilize Haiti’s military to help the National Police fight the country’s increasingly powerful gangs.⁠

Henry said during an appearance at the Haitian Armed Forces headquarters that he intends to mobilize all of the country’s security forces in the fight against gang violence. His comments come as Haiti and some U.N. officials continue to press the international community to deploy foreign troops to help quell the widespread violence.⁠

“What we are living today is not a joke,” Henry said.⁠

Jean Robenson Servilius, who works in the press office for Haiti’s Defense Ministry, confirmed that officials are working on plans to activate the military. He said that the Armed Forces currently have some 2,000 soldiers and that more are being recruited, adding that they have been trained by experts in Argentina, Mexico, and Colombia.⁠

Haiti’s military was disbanded in 1995 after it participated in multiple coups and was accused of other political interference. The Armed Forces were reinstated by assassinated President Jovenel Moïse in 2017 after the U.N. ended its peacekeeping operation in Haiti. Since then, it has played a limited role, which includes providing protection to Haiti’s prime minister.⁠

It was not immediately clear when the military would be activated, how many soldiers would be called to duty, or what role they would play. But Henry said their help was needed.⁠

Gangs control an estimated 60% of the capital of Port-au-Prince, and they have killed hundreds of people in recent months in their fight to control more territory in the aftermath of the July 2021 assassination of Moïse at his private home. Tens of thousands of Haitians have been displaced by the ongoing violence, which U.N. officials say has reached levels not seen in decades.⁠

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