Building Peace, Preventing Violence and Supporting Community Resilience in Haiti |

The UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), which emphasizes the role of women and youth in peacebuilding through their meaningful participation, began work in Haiti in 2019 to respond to needs identified by the government.

Ahead of the International Day of Peace, which is observed annually on September 21, here are five things you need to know about the PBF.

lead peace

Around the world, in 2006, the Peacebuilding Fund began working in countries or situations at risk of or affected by violent conflict. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described it as “a crucial tool to support resilience and prevention”.

Between 2006 and 2021, the PBF provided $1.67 billion to 65 countries to sustain peace efforts. Haiti has received around $20 million for nine projects. These interventions are largely focused on implementing and maintaining peace agreements, dialogue and peaceful coexistence, and restoring essential services that can help build peaceful societies.

UNDP Haiti/Borja Lopetegui Gonzalez

Gang violence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, terrorizes adults and children alike.

violence, instability and insecurity

Instability and insecurity, fueled by stark inequalities, are long-standing problems in Haiti and are the main reasons the government has sought PBF support.

The assassination of the Haitian president in July 2021 and a devastating earthquake in the country’s south a month later added to insecurity caused by the growing presence and influence of gangs.

That insecurity has worsened in the capital, Port-au-Prince, over the past year as gang violence, exacerbated by the proliferation of illegal guns and ammunition, has increased. The number of cases of kidnapping for ransom has also increased.

In the commune of Cite Soleil, one of the capital’s poorest neighbourhoods, 99 people were killed and 133 injured during a particularly violent week in July when clashes broke out between gangs vying for control of the territory. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands of people fled to safer places, many with the help of the United Nations.

Edwin*, a youth leader living in Cite Soleil and part of a group of young people supported by the PBF, said he witnessed fierce fighting in the streets, adding: “I go to bed and wake up to the sound of gunshots, which is very stressful.” The group brings together youth from neighborhoods where rival gangs are active. “We want our voices to be heard outside of the Cité Soleil, because if nobody hears us, nothing changes,” he said.


The UN supports the reopening of schools like the Lycée National de La Saline.

UN Haiti/Jonathan Boulet-Groulx

The UN supports the reopening of schools like the Lycée National de La Saline.

absence of peace

Gang violence is just one very concrete manifestation of insecurity and lack of peace, but the lives of Haitians are being impacted in myriad other ways. In Cite Soleil, the education of around 95,000 schoolchildren in over 300 schools has been disrupted by violence.

More than 2,500 people fled the community and had to seek help from the UN. The blockage of roads south has stopped the free flow of people and services in both directions, making it difficult for farmers to get their crops to market in Port-au-Prince and to deliver relief and reconstruction materials for the earthquake. affected southern peninsula.

“Reducing violence and conflict, providing access to justice and building lasting peace and stability are the priorities of the UN Peacebuilding Fund,” said Ulrika Richardson, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Relief in Haiti. “. We envision joining Haiti in building a peaceful and prosperous society for all Haitians through the leadership of a broad spectrum of local and national actors.”

Economic progress is almost impossible without stability, security and justice. Unfortunately, this is becoming more evident with the ongoing slowdown in the Haitian economy, the impact of which is being felt most severely by the most vulnerable and marginalized individuals and communities.


The Peacebuilding Fund supports activities to prevent electoral and political violence, particularly against women

© UNICEF/Roger LeMoyne

The Peacebuilding Fund supports activities to prevent electoral and political violence, particularly against women

bridging a gap

The PBF has played a particularly important role in Haiti following the closure of the UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSTAHin 2017. The PBF is one of the few resources available to the United Nations to increase its efforts in areas previously covered by the mission or in areas that require renewed attention.

The fund has focused on a number of key areas, including reducing community violence, with an emphasis on supporting and encouraging community-level participation with a focus on youth. It has also promoted social cohesion and mental health, particularly for women and girls, and supports activities to prevent electoral and political violence, again with a particular focus on protecting and empowering women.

Strengthening the justice system, including providing legal assistance to vulnerable populations, while enhancing coordination between judicial actors and the prison system is also a PBF priority.


Inmates in a Haitian prison

BINUH

Inmates in a Haitian prison

Supporting the most vulnerable in Haiti

Ultimately, the PBF is a person-centred funding mechanism that has led to notable successes.

As a 15-year-old, Renel* was jailed in a Les Cayes prison for three years without a trial after he was falsely accused by a shopkeeper of stealing two ducks. His case caught the attention of the United Nations and was referred to a legal aid office set up by the UN Development Program (UNDP), the UN political mission in Haiti, BINUH and the Haitian Ministry of Justice and Public Security and funded by PBF.

Renel was released from custody along with 67 other people. “Children should be in school, not in prison,” he said.

Sylvie attends a PBF-supported group in the gang-hit Martissant neighborhood to prevent and resolve community disputes. With a focus on women’s empowerment and tackling sexual violence, she said: “The situation may not be resolved tomorrow, but we hope to see changes in the longer term.”International Day of Peace is celebrated worldwide on September 21st. The theme for 2022 is “End Racism. Make peace”

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