LIMA, Oct 8 — Haiti said yesterday it had “formally” sought international assistance with a worsening security situation “which our national police cannot deal with.”

Bocchit Edmond, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, told AFP 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 Organisation of American States (OAS).

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.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is facing an acute political, economic and security crisis.

Protests and looting have rocked the already unstable country since September 11, when Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced a fuel price hike.

To add to the woes, “you have one of the most notorious armed gangs… still keeping the fuel ports under their grip. It has been more than 20 days,” said Edmond, with hospitals and schools crippled.

“It is a humanitarian issue. There is a necessity (for) the international community to come and assist,” the ambassador said.

On Thursday, the United Nations warned of a possible explosion of cholera cases in Haiti.

And it made an appeal for the creation of a humanitarian corridor to allow for the release of fuel at the Varreux fuel terminal, the country’s largest, under the control of powerful armed gangs.

OAS secretary general Luis Almagro tweeted on Thursday he had advised Haiti to “seek urgent assistance from the international community “to help resolve security crises and determine characteristics of the international security force.”

And US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who also attended the OAS meeting, said on Twitter he had met his Haitian counterpart Jean Victor Geneus and assured him “we remain committed to helping Haiti restore security and democratic order so that all Haitians can have a brighter future.”

Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on the same forum yesterday that “the solution to this crisis must be Haitian-led.”

“We also called for restoring the supply of fuel from the Varreux terminal and providing robust security assistance to Haiti. We will work together to help restore peace and stability in Haiti,” she tweeted

Haiti, which shares the mountainous Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, has a population of more than 11 million.

In July, the UN Security Council agreed to ask member states to ban the transfer of small arms to Haiti but stopped short of a full embargo requested by China. — AFP