Further to an extraordinary meeting of the ECOSOC Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti held on April 29th to discuss the evolving situation in Haiti in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Group expresses its concern that least developed countries such as Haiti will be disproportionately affected given the weak health infrastructure and underlying social and economic inequalities characterizing these countries. The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to deepen the humanitarian, human rights and economic crisis in Haiti and to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, pushing more people into poverty in a country where 6 million people are already living below the poverty line.
The Group is further concerned that, unless adequately managed, the COVID-19 health emergency, and its socio-economic impact, could become a humanitarian catastrophe, threatening to unravel some of the hard-won development and security gains achieved in the past decade and a half in Haiti. Forty per cent of the country’s population is now food insecure, making Haiti among the ten most food insecure countries in the world. With schools closed, some 300,000 children are now left without their daily school meal, putting them at serious risk of stunted growth. The onset of the hurricane season from June through November 2020 could further compound existing challenges. The Group is also concerned that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could further erode confidence of Haitians in their national institutions, exacerbate political and social tensions, prompt human rights violations and be a factor leading to renewed violence and increased security challenges.
The Group underscores that, while immediate action is needed to address Haiti’s health and humanitarian needs, efforts should also be pursued to continue promoting sustainable development and building the country’s resilience to future shocks. The Group welcomes the prompt measures taken by the Government of Haiti, whose overall responsibility and accountability remain essential in addressing the crisis, including the setting up of a multidisciplinary scientific committee and a multisectoral commission to assist the Ministry of Public Health and Population in managing the pandemic as well as the development of the COVID-19 health response plan.
The Group further welcomes the efforts by the United Nations Country Team and the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) to support the Haitian Government in addressing the socio-economic, humanitarian and security implications of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly efforts to enhance coordination and coherence of humanitarian action, sustainable development and peacebuilding efforts.
Stressing that the COVID-19 global crisis requires global response and solidarity, the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti requests the United Nations, Member States, donors, International Financial Institutions, and all stakeholders to act together with determination and urgency to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate its humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences. The Group calls upon all actors to ensure a rapid, safe, full and unhindered humanitarian access which is more necessary than ever to facilitate the response to the pandemic. The Group also urges support for Haiti’s COVID-19 Response Plan led by the Ministry of Public Health and Population and calls upon Member States to contribute to the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Haiti as well as to the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19.
The Group remains actively seized of the situation and will continue to monitor developments closely.
The Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti is composed of Argentina, the Bahamas, Belize, Benin, Brazil, Canada (Chair), Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Haiti, Mexico, Peru, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States of America and Uruguay to the United Nations. The President of ECOSOC is an ex officio member of the Group. It was initially formed in 1999 and its mandate is to follow closely and provide advice on the long-term development strategy of Haiti.