Will the Haiti students save their country? After days of gunfights in early November, Haitian police officers emerged triumphant :

They had finally liberated the nation's biggest port from the gangs that had taken it over for two months.

But when officers returned to the shantytown that surrounds the port just days later, they still did not feel safe enough to even leave their armored truck.

The officers anxiously scanned rows of rusty shacks for hidden gunmen, too wary of the danger outside to open the doors.

The upshot was clear : The police keep trying to fight back, but gangs still run much of Haiti.

The assassination of Haiti's president last year set off a wave of terror across the Caribbean nation. But conditions have plunged to horrifying new lows in recent months, as gangs carried out such extreme violence that the carnage has been compared to civil war.

NOW, fearing that the humanitarian crisis engulfing Haiti could spur mass migration to the United States and elsewhere, some top Biden administration officials are pushing to send a multinational armed force to the country, several current and former officials say, after the Haitian government made an appeal for such an intervention recently.

But the United States doesn't want its own troops included in that force, even though officials fear that the tumult in Haiti could send an even bigger wave of migrants to American shores.

Already, the number of Haitian migrants intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard has increased more than fourfold since last year, with many setting sail in overcrowded boats known to capsize in rough waters.

''That has always been the U.S. government's biggest Haitian nightmare, a mass migration event,'' said Daniel Foote, who served as the U.S. special envoy to Haiti for part of last year.

''It's already upon us; the next step becomes biblical, with people falling off anything that can float. We aren't that far away from that.''

Haiti's government took the extreme step of requesting foreign armed intervention to curb the unrest subsuming the nation. 

It was an explicit acknowledgment of how desperate the instability has become, in a country that remains deeply resentful of past foreign intervention.

WHILE United Nations peacekeepers were last stationed in Haiti in 2010, they brought cholera to the country, scientists say, causing one of the worst outbreaks in modern times.

Nearly 10,000 Haitians died, and respect for the United Nations in Haiti was ''forever destroyed,'' Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general at the time, later wrote.

The World Students Society thanks author Natalie Kitroeff.


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