Building peace, preventing violence and supporting community resilience in Haiti – Haiti

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A fund set up by the United Nations to build peace, prevent violence, strengthen justice, strengthen the rule of law and security institutions and strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable people in Haiti, supports the efforts of the government to restore security and stability in the country.

The UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), which emphasizes the role of women and youth in peacebuilding efforts through their meaningful participation, began working in Haiti in 2019 in response to the needs identified by the government.

Ahead of the International Day of Peace celebrated each year on September 21, here are five things you need to know about PBF.

Make peace

Globally, the Peacebuilding Fund began working in 2006 in countries or situations at risk of or affected by violent conflict. UN Secretary-General António Guterres described it as “an essential vehicle to support resilience and prevention”.

Between 2006 and 2021, the PBF has allocated $1.67 billion to 65 countries to support peace efforts. Haiti received approximately $20 million for nine projects. These interventions largely focus on the implementation and maintenance of peace agreements, dialogue and peaceful coexistence, and the restoration of basic services that can help build peaceful societies.

Violence, instability and insecurity

Instability and insecurity, propelled by high inequalities, are long-standing problems in Haiti and are the main reasons why the government has requested support from the PBF.

The assassination of Haiti’s president in July 2021 and a devastating earthquake in the south of the country a month later have added to the insecurity caused by the growing presence and influence of gangs.

This insecurity has worsened in the capital Port-au-Prince over the past year as gang violence, exacerbated by the proliferation of illicit weapons and ammunition, has intensified. The number of kidnapping for ransom cases has also increased.

In the commune of Cité Soleil, one of the poorest districts of the capital, 99 people were killed and 133 injured during a particularly violent week of clashes in July between gangs vying for control of territory. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands of people fled to safer locations, many of them supported by the United Nations.

Edwin*, a young leader living in Cité Soleil who is part of a youth group supported by the PBF, said he witnessed heavy fighting in the streets, adding that “I go to bed and wake up to the sound of gunfire which is very stressful.” The group brings together young people from neighborhoods where rival gangs are active. “We want our voices to be heard outside of Cité Soleil, because if no one hears us, nothing will change,” said he declared.

lack of peace

Gang violence is just one very tangible manifestation of insecurity and lack of peace, but the lives of Haitians are affected in countless other ways. In Cité Soleil, around 95,000 school children in more than 300 schools have seen their education disrupted by violence.

More than 2,500 people fled the commune and had to seek UN assistance. The blocking of roads to the south has interrupted the free movement of people and services in both directions, making it difficult for farmers to get their crops to market in Port-au-Prince and to deliver materials from earthquake relief and reconstruction. southern peninsula affected.

“Reducing violence and conflict, accessing justice and building lasting peace and stability are the priorities of the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund,” said Ulrika Richardson, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti. “. It is through the leadership of a wide range of local and national actors that we plan to support Haiti in building a peaceful and prosperous society for all Haitians.

Without stability, security and justice, economic progress is almost impossible. This is unfortunately becoming increasingly clear with the continued downturn in the Haitian economy, the effects of which are felt most by the most vulnerable and marginalized individuals and communities.

Fill a gap

The PBF played a particularly important role in Haiti following the closure of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, MINUSTAH, in 2017. The PBF is one of the few resources the United Nations has to scale up efforts in areas previously covered by the mission or areas. requiring renewed attention.

The fund focused on a number of key areas, including community violence reduction, with an emphasis on supporting and promoting participation at the community level, with a focus on young people. It has also promoted social cohesion and mental health, particularly for women and girls, and it supports activities to prevent election-related and political violence, again with a particular focus on protecting and empowering women. women.

Strengthening the judicial system, including the provision of legal aid to vulnerable populations while strengthening coordination between judicial actors and the penal system, is also a priority of the PBF.

Supporting Haiti’s Most Vulnerable

Ultimately, PBF is a people-centred financing mechanism that has resulted in notable successes.

At 15, Renel* was detained without trial for three years in a prison in Les Cayes after being wrongly accused by a shopkeeper of stealing two ducks. His case caught the attention of the United Nations and was referred to a legal aid office, set up by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Political Mission in Haiti, BINUH and the Haitian Ministry of Justice and Public Security and financed by the PBF.

Renel, along with 67 other people, were released. “Children should be in school, not in jail,” he said.

Sylvie participates in a PBF-supported group in the gang-affected neighborhood of Martissant, which seeks to prevent and resolve conflict at the community level. Focusing on empowering women and tackling sexual violence, she said, “The situation may not be resolved tomorrow, but hopefully we will see longer-term changes.”The International Day of Peace is celebrated around the world on September 21. The theme for 2022 is “End Racism. Build Peace”

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