United Nations, Sep 26 (AP) The speeches may be scripted, but the UN General Assembly can sometimes be the only direct window into the regional challenges that command global concern.
On Saturday, world leaders were speaking on behalf of some of the most unstable and unsettling current conflicts.
That includes India's fight over the Kashmir region with bitter rival Pakistan, Haiti's domestic crises spilling into a migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border and questions about the Ethiopian government's role in reported starvation deaths in the Tigray region.
Haiti Prime Minister Ariel Henry didn't shy away from addressing his country's turmoil following a major earthquake and the assassination of its president, Jovenel Moise, in recent months — alluding to but not directly addressing reports that may implicate Henry himself in the murder.
“I want to reaffirm here, at this platform, my determination to do everything to find the collaborators, accomplices and sponsors of this odious crime. Nothing, absolutely nothing, no political maneuver, no media campaign, no distraction, could deter me from this objective: rendering justice for President Moise,” Henry said in a prerecorded speech.
“It is a debt to his memory, his family and the Haitian people," Henry said. "The judicial inquest is going difficultly. It's a transnational crime. And for that, we formally solicit mutual legal assistance. It is a priority of my government for the entire nation. Because this crime cannot rest unpunished et those culpable, all those culpable must be punished.”
The statement comes days after Henry fired his chief prosecutor, who had asked a judge to charge Henry in the slaying of Moise that has shocked the world and to bar the prime minister from leaving the country.
Haiti's troubles have moved beyond its borders, with thousands of migrants fleeing to the United States. This week, the Biden administration's special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned in protest of “inhumane” large-scale US expulsions of Haitian migrants. Foote was appointed to the position only in July, following the assassination.
Henry pointedly said that inequalities and conflict drive migration. But he stopped short of directly criticizing Washington, whose treatment of Haitian asylum-seekers has prompted an outcry.
Human beings, fathers and mothers who have children, are always going to flee poverty and conflict,” Henry said.
“Migration will continue as long as the planet has both wealthy areas, whilst most of the world's population lives in poverty, even extreme poverty, without any prospects of a better life.”
It was a flat-out denial for Ethiopia Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, who rejected humanitarian concerns over Tigray as part of a “twisted propaganda campaign" in the embattled corner of northern Ethiopia.
“The criminal enterprise and its enablers created and advertised horrific imagery of faked incidents. As if the real misery of our people is not enough, storylines are created to match not the facts but preconceived stereotypical attitudes," Mekonnen said.
Ethiopia has faced the pressure of global concern since the UN warned of famine in the conflict, calling it the world's worst hunger crisis in a decade. Starvation deaths have been reported since the government in June imposed what the UN calls “a de facto humanitarian aid blockade.”
In his speech Saturday, Mekonnen urged the international community to steer clear of sanctions, avoid meddling and take a “constructive approach” to its war forces from the region.
“Prescriptions and punitive measures never helped improve situations or relations,” he said, less than 10 days after the US threatened to impose sanctions against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other leaders.