Haiti's situation is dire and cannot persist, State Department says

Demonstrators take part in a protest demanding the resignation of Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry
People run while police fire tear gas during a protest demanding the resignation of Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry after weeks of shortages, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti October 10, 2022. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol

WASHINGTON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The situation in Haiti has grown dire, with criminal groups blocking efforts to control a cholera outbreak, a U.S. State Department spokesman said on Tuesday, adding that the status quo "cannot persist."

An outbreak of cholera in Haiti this month has killed at least 16 people, according to the United Nations, while a gang blockade of a key fuel terminal has led to shortages of gasoline and diesel as well as bottled water.

"We note that situation has grown even more dire, even more dangerous with the actions of criminal actors that impede urgent measures to address the threat posed by cholera to the Haitian population," spokesman Ned Price said in a press briefing.

He added the State Department continues to review, in coordination with other international partners, Haiti's Oct. 7 request for security assistance to confront gangs.

He declined to address whether U.S. troops would be involved in such an effort.

"This is a status quo that cannot persist and we will continue to work and to speak with international partners on ways that we can facilitate the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance to the Haitian people," Price said.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Washington and Brian Ellsworth in Miami; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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