The Prime Minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry, said on Saturday that “human beings, fathers and mothers who have children, are always going to flee poverty and conflict.”
“Migration will continue as long as the planet has both wealthy areas, whilst most of the world’s population lives in poverty, even extreme poverty, without any prospects of a better life,” he said in a pre-recorded message.
Referring to the situation of Haitian asylum-seekers, he stated that “Over recent days, the images of the treatment reserved for several of my compatriots at the border between Mexico and the United States has shocked many.”
“We do not wish to challenge the right of a sovereign State to control the entry borders into its territory, or to send back to the country of origin those who enter a country illegally,” he added.
Migration and its causes
Mr. Henry was speaking on the 5th day of the high-level week of the General Assembly. After being held virtually last year due the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s gathering features “hybrid” activities that include leaders in person along with virtual participants.
Ariel Henry also reminded wealthy nations that their prosperity is in some part due to the efforts of migrants. “We believe that many countries which are prosperous today have been built through successive waves of migrants and refugees,” he said.
The Haitian leader also pointed to the 80 million displaced persons worldwide, including 30 million refugees and asylum seekers, and urged leaders to address the root causes of displacement, including the living conditions in places of origin.
The Haitian Prime Minister also lauded international solidarity in response to the earthquake that struck the country in August, including the recent visit to the country by UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed.
He also pointed to “a series of deadly devastating disasters”, including the 2010 earthquake, hurricane Matthew in 2016, as well as a more recent quake earlier this month.
Mr. Henry said the August earthquake devastated the Southern peninsula and resulted in at least 2,207 deaths, 344 still missing, and more than 12,268 people injured, and thousands of homes, hospitals, schools, churches, bridges, and roads destroyed.
“Allow me to invite the international community to remain engaged with Haiti to help with the response, not only with the most urgent humanitarian needs, but to accompany the reconstruction process that my government is working on,” he said.
Elections as soon as possible
He also spoke about internal affairs, saying he desires the “quickest possible path” to fresh elections, despite the wishes of some Haitians for delay. He also said that only a dialogue with political parties and organized civil society actors can lead to a “sufficient consensus to ensure socio-political stability.”
For the Prime Minister, the new “political agreement for peaceful and effective governance of the interim period” constitutes an “important step” in the process of restoring the rule of law and democratic institutions.
Mr. Henry noted that his “call to govern” came after the assassination of president Jovenel Moïse, back in July, at a time of “intolerable insecurity” that was also marked by declining public institutions.
“I reaffirm here, on this tribune, my determination on all measures to find the co-authors, the accomplices and the sponsors of this hideous crime,” he assured. “No one, absolutely no one, no mediatic campaign, no distraction, can deflect me from that goal: [ensue there is justice for] President Moïse.”
Read the full statement in French here.