by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The father of the Honorary Consul of St. Kitts and Nevis, Harold Marzouka, Jr, based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was among three people kidnapped by armed bandits in Haiti on Saturday, April 15.
The government on April 17 released a statement condemning the kidnapping calling the lawless agents cowardly as they continue to terrorise Haitian citizens and residents alike indiscriminately.
The government also reiterated the appeal to “international partners for short-term assistance to address the security and humanitarian crises.”
The Caribbean island’s social, political and economic climate has seemingly deteriorated further because of public health issues, the assassination of a sitting president and an onslaught of natural disasters from earthquakes, one of which generated a small tsunami and a hurricane.
According to regional and international reports, the humanitarian situation in Haiti is alarming.
Save the Children reported that 50% of Haiti’s children suffer from acute malnutrition, aggravated by gang violence, political instability, and rising inflation.
In February, Heads of Government of CARICOM, at the 44th Regular Meeting in The Bahamas, pledged that the Community must play a leadership role in addressing the deteriorating situation in Haiti, a Member State, out of moral and political obligations.
Following the government’s response to the kidnapping, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew, said that information about the situation is scarce.
“We have not gotten any other report that any harm, any physical harm, would have come to him. What I would say is that information is very sketchy because of the security system – the security situation in Haiti, the formal media that are used to transmit information, those are basically broken down. So we are still waiting on information. As a matter of fact, I would say the Foreign Minister reported to me that he initially received the information via WhatsApp just to show you how the situation in Haiti is – there is hardly any institution that we can really call and confirm reliable information on it. So we are hoping for the best outcome; of course, we are hoping that common sense prevails. We are hoping that he can go back to his family safely, that is our for him at this particular time. As far as information, that is what we have received thus far.”
Regarding interventions, the Prime Minister said that dialogues with other countries and international bodies continue, but there will be no such move as far as military intervention.
“The approach that the world wants to take is to support and strengthen the Haitian Police. The thought is if you were to put boots on the ground in Haiti, you can create a worse situation. And so, the decision has been – a global decision really – at this point, not boots on the ground in Haiti, but strengthened the Police and allow it to be a Haitian lead type of operation, but of course support it.” – Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew, during the April 19 broadcast of the Roundtable, a special interview with the Prime Minister.
The continued turmoil in Haiti has increased the number of nationals seeking asylum in neighbouring CARICOM countries and the US.
The conversation around the Haitian migration reaches closer to home when one considers the 13 Haitian immigrants that entered Nevis illegally on February 3. The 13 were set to be repatriated to Haiti by the government of St. Kitts and Nevis but were spared repatriation after an injunction was filed with the courts, and the public awaits the decision of the courts on the 13 Haitian’s asylum application to the Federation.
The debate on allowing the free movement of people from the CARICOM state continues, with people wary of the toll an influx of people would have on a small country versus the humanitarian needs of Haitians.