China calls on UN to ban sale of small arms to Haiti in bid to end violence

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China has asked the United Nations Security Council to vote on banning small arms in Haiti, sanctioning the Caribbean nation’s gang leaders and even sending a regional police force to the plagued island to violence, diplomatic sources said Thursday.

The proposal comes as Council members consider renewing a UN political mission in Haiti that expires Friday evening.

And it also comes as the impoverished country slides into chaos, with a spike in deadly gang violence, fuel shortages and rising food prices.

Individual sanctions would include travel bans and asset freezes, according to a draft text seen by AFP.

China has played an increasingly prominent role in Haiti-related issues at the UN in recent years, largely because Port-au-Prince has recognized Taiwan, the democratic and self-governing island that Beijing considers its own territory and swore to seize it. one day, by force if necessary.

Countries that maintain diplomatic relations with China generally refrain from having official exchanges with Taiwan.

At the UN, Beijing has taken a tougher line on Haiti, although it denies any connection between its position and the Taiwan issue.

A Chinese diplomatic source told AFP that it was necessary to push the political authorities in Haiti to act, and to put those responsible for the violence on notice with legal sanctions.

“The situation in Haiti cannot be worse. As we conduct negotiations here, gang violence is escalating in Port-au-Prince,” said a spokeswoman for the Chinese mission to the UN.

“An arms embargo against criminal gangs is the minimum the Council should do in response to the appalling situation,” she added.

The United States is not necessarily against such sanctions, but they must be the right solution, a US diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

It wouldn’t make much sense to implement an arms embargo without a UN sanctions committee or panel to oversee it, the diplomat said, adding that further information on the sanctions proposed against individuals were necessary to discuss the idea.

All of this “needs more work,” the source said.

At least 89 people have been killed in Port-au-Prince alone this week after days of gang violence, and aid agencies have said the area is dangerous to access.

Crushing poverty and widespread violence are driving many Haitians to flee to the Dominican Republic, with which Haiti shares a border, or to the United States.

The Security Council is debating whether to extend the UN’s special political mission in Haiti, known by its acronym BINUH, until 2023.

A vote was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but with Council members debating China’s proposal, it could be pushed back to Friday.

(AFP)

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