AMERICA/HAITI - Father Massimo Miraglio: There is insecurity in the capital and there is a lack of food and infrastructure, but the situation is improving”

Friday, 10 May 2024

by Antonella Prenna

Port au Prince (Agenzia Fides) - The news arriving from Port au Prince in recent months describes a dramatic situation, with constant shootings and violence between armed gangs. "At the moment there seems to be a slight improvement in the situation," reports to Fides Father Massimo Miraglio, Camillian missionary and parish priest of the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the remote village of Purcine. "Just in the last few days I have received information from local sources that the situation has improved in the last week. They tell me that things have definitely become much quieter and therefore everyday activities have resumed. Of course, that doesn't mean that the situation has normalized, because the problems are still big, people still live in a city where there is uncertainty."

“The problem of displaced people is still enormous,” explains the missionary. “We must not forget that there are at least a hundred thousand displaced people who have left their homes to find shelter in very precarious tent cities, and that many have had to leave the capital to find shelter in the provinces. The food problem is just as serious. Containers have not arrived on the island for months, more precisely since March 4, and despite the efforts of the World Food Program to distribute food, it is not enough. In addition, all facilities have been destroyed and vandalized, especially medical facilities, which are therefore closed and do not provide services. “Some embassies and offices are tentatively beginning to reopen.”

A second aspect to be taken into account concerns the progress of the UN mission,” said Father Massimo. “In the past week, the preparation of the UN mission has accelerated. Air Force planes from the southern United States initially brought war materials to equip the Port-au-Prince police and army with new weapons. Next came materials to build a base near Port-au-Prince airport to accommodate the first group of Kenyans, expected at the end of the month. Dozens of U.S. Air Force flights are expected in the coming weeks to bring construction materials and skilled personnel to build this base and oversee the security of these first UN facilities."

In addition to the UN mission, an international police mission that is intended to support the Haitian police and army in restoring peace, stability in Haiti and combating gangs, there must be a comprehensive plan to provide concrete support to the population, the missionary emphasizes, “while military intervention to restore peace and stability is urgent, humanitarian assistance to a population exhausted by months of violence, fighting and instability is equally urgent. "It is absolutely paramount to consider military and international police operations to establish stability, but it is equally urgent to begin massive distribution of food and essential supplies," he says.

"It appears that the United States has recently intervened with another significant contribution to better support this mission," reports Father Massimo. "Certainly the UN intervention is important and could pay off, but without the significant political and economic contribution from the United States, it would be another failure. An hour and a half from Miami, nothing happens without the United States keeping a close eye on everything. It is to be hoped that the United States will set up the Transitional Council to support civil society. "We really support it and launch a project, a meaningful development program, that lays the foundation for a positive process that will gradually lead Haiti out of this dramatic situation."

"From a political point of view," continues Father Massimo, "the news is quite positive, since the Transitional Council, established under the auspices of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and under the watchful eyes of the United States and the international community, seems to be working. A meeting was recently held with the former government, which is currently still in office because a new government has not yet been formed, where they agreed to take action, which shows the willingness of the members of this Council to work together , to lead Haiti out of the crisis and take the Caribbean island to elections as soon as possible, probably in late 2025, to give it constitutional status, legal status and legality. Let us hope that this is the beginning of a positive development, let us hope that the international community takes Haiti's situation to heart and commits to supporting the country in a consistent and transparent manner." It is a very delicate moment and the situation is still very difficult. “The next few weeks will show us whether we are really on the right track,” said Father Massimo.

Another important step in reopening the country to the outside world would be the reopening of Port au Prince's Toussaint Airport in early June, which is currently closed to civil and commercial flights. Security inside the airport and material brought into the country by the United States is provided by the American army, while security outside the airport is provided by the small Haitian army and police. It is hoped that the port, or at least one of the two ports, will be opened to incoming containers as soon as possible.

Father Massimo concludes with the invitation to prayer and underlines the importance of the Pope's appeals for peace and reconciliation, the recent words of the Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin during the conference on the Caribbean country organized by the "Academia de Líderes Católicos", where he "the "demanded everyone's attention". "Surely," said the Camillian, "these are all things that show the Church's desire to assist Haiti in this very delicate and important moment in its history." (Agenzia Fides, 10/5/2024)