Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on Monday called for more support for Haiti to help address the country’s humanitarian needs amid escalating gang violence.
“We have committed as a Community to supporting the Haitian people to broker a Haitian-led solution to the instability that they now face. It is a crisis that requires our continued support and the support of the wider international community,” Prime Minister Skerrit said at the opening ceremony of the 45th Conference of Heads of Government in Trinidad and Tobago.
He said CARICOM outreach had met with favourable reaction but sustained engagement was needed to assist Haiti to arrest a wave of violence by criminal gangs in recent months.
“We are well aware that it is just the beginning, and our engagement must build from that and we must keep the dialogue going until there is not only light at the end of the tunnel, but a station for the stakeholders to disembark from the train, united in purpose and action,” Mr. Skerrit said.
The Dominican leader assumed the Chairmanship of CARICOM on Monday as Heads meet over the next two days to discuss matters ranging from regional security and agriculture and food security to climate change and intra-regional travel.
Prime Minister Skerrit stressed that it was time to remove the hassle from intra-regional travel.
“Colleague Heads, we need now to actively pursue creative and affordable partnerships to deliver on this crucial element of integration in the interest of our people. The movement of people and goods are the backbone of a successful integration arrangement,” he said
He also called for an expansion of the categories for free movement of skilled nationals to benefit the growth and expansion of the regional economy and the spirit of CARICOM.
“It is incumbent upon us all, to strive to increase the ability of the less endowed to participate more fully in the trading arrangements. We must all seek to make our arrangements more equitable and use the provisions of the Treaty in a more positive manner,” he advised.
The Prime Minister looked to youth engagement and involvement to advance the objectives of CARICOM over the next 50 years. He noted the region’s young people have demonstrated interest in formulating solutions to issues such as climate change; and praised their grasp of technology to create new jobs, and their innovation and creativity in entrepreneurship, culture, sports and the arts.