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The United Nations has appointed Ecuadoran diplomat Maria Isabel Salvador to help Haiti rebuild after a devastating earthquake in 2010, the dissolution of parliament in 2020, the 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, and the subsequent explosion in crime, gang violence and the breakdown of civil society.

“Salvador inherits a difficult role,” wrote the Miami Herald. “She is going to Haiti at a time members of the national police are defecting, the judiciary is almost non-existent, the healthcare system is collapsing and kidnapping gangs are increasingly terrorizing the population.”

Meanwhile, there are no elected officials left in power officially: In January, its 10 remaining senators departed their roles after their terms ended, leaving behind a nation’s worth of elected offices that now sit empty after years of canceled elections, NPR reported.

Instead, as the Associated Press reported, gangs are taking control of Haiti as democracy withers in the impoverished Caribbean nation. The news agency’s story featured gangster Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, the boss of the “G9 alliance” of Haitian criminal organizations, which controls sections of the country and initiated a fuel blockade last year that further crippled Haiti’s economy.

Numerous countries have slapped sanctions on Cherizier and others, including officials linked to Moïse, for alleged human rights abuses, added Reuters. Hundreds have died in turf battles between Cherizier’s and other gangs.

Haiti has always faced tough times. In 1804, the country finally wrested its sovereignty from France, but reparations for that separation nipped Haiti’s growth in the bud, explained National Public Radio. Dictatorship and civil strife punctuated by US military intervention have bedeviled the country since then.

Gang violence has even impacted rural regions, noted InSight Crime. Food production has decreased as a result. Now around 4.7 million people, or 40 percent of Haiti’s population, are going hungry. Gunmen have also attacked hospitals, preventing doctors from tending to the sick, aged, and those wounded in street fighting, added Doctors Without Borders. The United States has allowed more Haitians to migrate to the US to escape these terrible conditions, CBS News reported.

Highlighting the extreme, arguably insurmountable challenges they face, Haitian leaders and other advocates, feeling that Salvador and the UN can’t solve their problems, have requested foreign military intervention from the UN Security Council. Without better security, the Haitian Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights director Gedeon Jean told the Jamaica Gleaner, the country can’t even hope to move forward due to rampant crime and violence.

But the US and other powers don’t appear interested in sending a peacekeeping force. They are tired of nation-building in the country, a costly and difficult job with few upsides for politicians in Washington, DC and elsewhere, wrote Devex. Haitians themselves are wary because of problems with prior international peacekeeping missions, noted Foreign Policy.

Salvador might have to go it alone.

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