12 Fast Facts On The Latest Situation On Haiti

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Mar. 13, 2024: With so many moving parts on the situation in Haiti, we at News Americas are bringing you 12 of the latest fast facts happening now.

1: Efforts to introduce new leadership in Haiti faced setbacks today, with several political factions rejecting the international community’s proposal for a presidential council to oversee the country’s transitional period.

A protester reacts while tires burn in the street during a demonstration following the resignation of its Prime Minister Ariel Henry, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 12, 2024. A political transition deal in Haiti marks a key step forward for the violence-ravaged country but far more needs to be done, with some experts warning the situation could deteriorate further. (Photo by CLARENS SIFFROY/AFP via Getty Images)

This council was intended to appoint an interim prime minister and ministers to navigate Haiti out of its current turmoil, exacerbated by widespread gang violence affecting education, business, and daily life.

Jean Charles Moïse, a former senator and presidential hopeful allied with ex-rebel leader Guy Philippe, publicly denounced the international proposal, advocating instead for a three-person council he had formed with Philippe and a Haitian judge.

Other notable figures like Himmler Rébu, a former army colonel and political party leader, and supporters of Prime Minister Ariel Henry expressed their dissent, each proposing different leadership solutions.

Despite the international effort to stabilize Haiti through a transitional council, the rejection from key Haitian political players underscores the deep divisions and challenges in finding a unified path forward.

2:  The US said today it has sent a specialized Marine unit to help secure the U.S. Embassy in Haiti as the country struggles through a political transition amid rising gang violence. This as  the Biden administration pledged an additional $100 million to facilitate the deployment of the Multinational Security Support Mission, (MSS), bringing the total U.S. contribution thus far to $300 million – 200 from the Department of Defense, $100 million commitment from the Department of State.  Secretary Blinken also announced an additional contribution of $33 million in humanitarian assistance to help the Haitian people at this difficult time.

Gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier speaks into his walkie talkie before a mission, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 5, 2024. (Photo by CLARENS SIFFROY/AFP via Getty Images)

3: Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier, one of the major gang leaders in Haiti, has said his coalition of gangs would oppose a new council appointed by CARICOM and top international leaders, including the US. He threatened to attack hotels where “the traditional politicians” typically stay and said a new government should be chosen by his coalition and “the Haitian people.”

4: Kenyan officials have paused putting the deployment of a U.N.-approved multinational security force to the beleaguered Caribbean nation until a new government is in place, according to media reports.

5: The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that Haiti is on the brink of a devastating hunger crisis, with aid operations at risk of “grinding to a halt” amid rampant violence armed gangs tightened their grip on the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The lack of goods and resources is worsening an already precarious economic situation, with water and basic services being “stretched to the limit”, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said.

6: In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered more than 250 law enforcement officers and soldiers to the Florida Keys to help stop what he anticipates to be an increase in Haitian migrants fleeing violence in their country

But so far, the Coast Guard hasn’t seen increased migrant traffic in the waters off Florida. The Coast Guard has repatriated 131 migrants found at sea to Haiti since Oct. 1, including 65 on Tuesday who were found on a boat near the Bahamas last week.

7: Despite the violence in Haiti and food insecurity, the Dominican Republic continues to deport thousands of Haitians back to Haiti as gangs now control 80 percent of Port-Au-Prince.

8: US House Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries, has written to the Republican Speaker of  the House, Mike Johnson, calling for “the full $50 million in security support” for Haiti.

“Congress must join the Biden administration in their crucial work and meet the moment by fulfilling our essential responsibility to ensure security in the Western Hemisphere and release the full $50 million funding allocation forthwith,” Jeffires wrote.

9:Bestselling author and award-winning journalist Mitch Albom said he was trapped in chaos-ridden Haiti and had to flee in the dead of night on a helicopter with nine others, including his wife.

Albom, the author of the blockbuster book, “Tuesdays With Morrie,” said in an interview with NBC News’ Gabe Guiterrez that a visit to an orphanage he established in Haiti turned terrifying when prisoners were freed, setting off bedlam on the troubled island. The orphanage, called Have Faith Haiti, is run by a nonprofit founded by Albom. He and the volunteers there found themselves stuck in Port-au-Prince, the capital, as the nation descended into violence by armed rebels and militias in recent weeks. Routes out of Haiti had been cut off, stranding the group.

Albom said a private helicopter was arranged by two congressional members — Rep. Cory Mills, R-Fla., who was tapped by Michigan Republican Rep. Lisa McClain — to help his group escape on Tuesday. After “a couple of failed attempts,” Albom and crew were able to fly “from an undisclosed location,” he said, to the Dominican Republic.

10: The United Nations said today it is reducing its footprint in Haiti because of the volatile security situation.

A spokesperson said non-essential personnel would be reduced, while those carrying out “lifesaving activities” will stay to continue operations. The organization has about 1,500 personnel in Haiti.

11: The German foreign ministry said its ambassador to Haiti joined other European Union representatives in leaving for the Dominican Republic as the country spiraled deeper into gang violence.

“Due to the very tense security situation in Haiti, the German ambassador and the permanent representative in Port-au-Prince left for the Dominican Republic today together with representatives from the EU delegation,” a ministry spokesman told AFP, adding that they would work from there “until further notice.” The US has also airlifted its staff out of Haiti.

12: The US State Department and Canada are still warning nationals not to travel to Haiti as the Caribbean nation continues to grapple with spiraling gang violence. The airport is closed currently.

Haiti has been listed as a Level 4: Do Not Travel destination by the US for the past four years.