Poor Caribbean country seeks "specialised armed forces" to end blockade of country's main fuel port that has led to crippling shortages, but many are against another international intervention.

A demonstrator prays on his knees during a protest to demand the resignation of PM Ariel Henry in the Petion-Ville area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
A demonstrator prays on his knees during a protest to demand the resignation of PM Ariel Henry in the Petion-Ville area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AP)

Haiti has decided to request the help of international troops as gangs and protesters paralyse the poor country and supplies of water, fuel and basic goods dwindle

In a document published on Friday and signed by Prime Minister Ariel Henry and 18 top-ranking officials, "the risk of a major humanitarian crisis" is threatening the life of many people.

It authorises Henry to request from international partners "the immediate deployment of a specialised armed force, in sufficient quantity," to stop the crisis across the country caused partly by the "criminal actions of armed gangs."

"It is imperative to restart activities to avoid a complete asphyxiation of the national economy," the document states.

It wasn't clear if the request had been formally submitted, to whom it would be submitted and whether it would mean the activation of United Nations peacekeeping troops, whose mission ended five years ago after a troubled 11 years in Haiti.

Bocchit Edmond, Haiti's ambassador to the United States, told the AFP news agency in Lima that a request for "foreign assistance" was made on Thursday.

"Now we are waiting on the international community and the international partners to decide what kind of form that assistance will be," he said on the sidelines of the general assembly meeting of the Organization of American States.

What it will not be, said Edmond, is a "foreign force or foreign occupation" of Haiti. Rather, "it's a call to solidarity" in the face of a "human tragedy," the ambassador added.

READ MORE: UN warns of 'explosion' of cholera cases in Haiti

Outbreak of cholera

Haiti has ground to a halt since a coalition of gangs blocked the Varreux fuel terminal last month. The lack of gas and diesel has crippled transportation and forced businesses and hospitals to halt operations.

It has also led to a shortage of bottled water, just as the country confirmed a new outbreak of cholera, the spread of which is controlled through hygiene and clean water.

The United Nations has not received an official request from the Haitian government, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.

"That being said, we remain extremely concerned about the security situation in Haiti, the impact it's having on the Haitian people, on our ability to do our work, especially in the humanitarian sphere," Dujarric told reporters.

Many Haitians have rejected the idea of another international intervention, noting that UN peacekeepers were accused of sexual assault and sparked a cholera epidemic more than a decade ago that killed nearly 10,000 people.

READ MORE: Haiti appeals for foreign help amid gang blockade

US told to reduce arms flowing to Haiti

"I don’t think Haiti needs another intervention," said Mathias Pierre, Haiti's former elections minister. "We have been through so many, and nothing has been solved .... If we don't do it as Haitians, 10 years forward, we're going to be in the same situation again."

He called on the US government to help reduce the amount of ammunition and guns flowing to Haiti and also to equip police officers so they have more weapons and the ability to run intelligence on gangs.

Haiti’s National Police has struggled to control gangs with its limited resources and chronic understaffing, with only some 12,800 active officers in a country of more than 11 million people.

The gangs have only grown more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of president Jovenel Moise.

The US State Department and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday tweeted that the United States remains "committed to helping Haiti restore security and democratic order."

READ MORE: Water crisis piles more misery on violence-hit Haiti residents

Source: TRTWorld and agencies