U.N. expects Haiti sanctions regime to be running by January

Dec 8 (Reuters) - The United Nations' sanction regime in Haiti in response to the gang violence and humanitarian crisis should be working by January 2023, the U.N. resident coordinator for the embattled Caribbean island nation said on Thursday.

Speaking at a news briefing, Ulrika Richardson said the U.N. Security Council is still discussing possible international intervention in Haiti, two months after U.N. chief Antonio Guterres proposed several countries send in a "rapid action strike force."

"I think there is a sense of urgency, a lot of the actors share that sense of urgency. But it's tricky," said Richardson when quizzed about how long such a response could take.

Richardson said people are being confronted with violence on a daily basis in capital city Port-au-Prince, saying "it can't continue."

Most countries remain skeptical of military intervention in Haiti, noting previous peacekeeping mission failures. Some prominent Haitian figures have already been sanctioned by individual countries.

Haitian gangs have expanded their territory since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. The resulting violence has left much of the country off-limits to government and led to routine gun battles with police.

Richardson said some 155,000 people had been internally displaced, up 77% since August, and that the U.N. was particularly concerned about gangs using sexual violence to keep populations under control.

A recent U.N. report revealed the mass rape of 52 women in Haiti in July. Richardson said for many this happened in front of their children, and that several victims did not seek health support due to fear of retaliation or shame.

Around half of the population is in need of urgent food assistance, she added, and cases of cholera, which reemerged this year, are spreading outside the capital.

Reporting by Sarah Morland; Editing by Anthony Esposito and Josie Kao

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