Haiti has been paralysed for nearly a month after gangs surrounded a large fuel terminal in the capital Port-au-Prince.

Gangs in Haiti have only grown more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Gangs in Haiti have only grown more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. (Rodrigo Abd / File / AP)

The US State Department said it was reviewing a request for international support from Haiti, which says it is seeking a "specialised armed force" to address a crisis caused by a blockade of the country's main fuel port.

In a statement on Saturday, the State Department said criminal actors were undermining the country's efforts to halt the spread of cholera.

"In that context, we will review the Government of Haiti’s request in coordination with international partners and determine how we can increase our support to help address Haiti’s fuel shortage and security constraints," it said.

The statement did not offer details on how the United States might help Haiti address its security constraints.

Haiti's ambassador to the United States Bocchit Edmond said that a request for "foreign assistance" was made on Thursday.

Haiti's request was published in a document on Friday and signed by Prime Minister Ariel Henry and 18 top-ranking officials.

Paralysed by gangs and protestors

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.

As a result, crews have been unable to distribute about 10 million gallons of diesel and gasoline and more than 800,000 gallons of kerosene stored on site.

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 fuel blockade began shortly after Prime Minister Ariel Henry's announcement on September 11 that the government would cut fuel subsidies, triggering anger among Haitians already struggling with sky-rocketing prices.

Henry on Wednesday said the subsidies were an unsustainable expense for the Haitian state.

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

READ MORE: Haiti appeals for foreign help amid gang blockade

Source: TRTWorld and agencies