At Bahamas summit, Caribbean leaders to seek international push on Haiti

Funeral of the three police officers killed by armed gangs, in Port-au-Prince
Armed Haitian National Police officers escort the convoy of the three officers killed by armed gangs after the funeral ceremony at the National Police Academy, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti January 31,2023. REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Caribbean leaders will appeal for international assistance on Haiti at an annual meeting in the Bahamas later this week, the prime minister of the host nation said Tuesday.

Haiti will be a "prominent priority" on the agenda for the Feb. 15-17 meeting in Nassau, Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis told a news conference, adding the goal was a "Haitian-led solution".

The 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise created a power vacuum that has emboldened armed gangs and exacerbated overlapping humanitarian crises.

Haiti is one of CARICOM's 15 members, which includes Montserrat, an overseas territory of Great Britain.

"We do not have the resources to be able to deal with the Haiti problem ourselves, and we do need outside help," Davis said, urging Canada and the United States "to come to the fore to help."

Leaders from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) regional bloc will meet alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a U.S. delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols.

Trudeau last month told reporters in Mexico City that Canada was "working with partners across the Caribbean and indeed, with the United States and Mexico to ensure that if the situation starts to deteriorate, we will have options."

Haiti's government and top United Nations officials have called for an international force to support Haitian police in their struggle against gangs, which have become the de facto authorities in parts of the country.

Still, regional leaders have been cautious about what kind of international response to pursue given Haiti's troubled history of foreign intervention.

"What we seek to have done is to stabilize the country sufficiently enough to allow for free and fair elections," Davis said.

The agenda for CARICOM's 44th heads of government meeting will also feature discussions on migration, climate change, food security, arms and drug trafficking, and healthcare.

Reporting by Brendan O'Boyle and Jasper Ward; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

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