The bishops of Haiti have issued an urgent plea, saying the country must pull together to stop its “descent into hell”.

The message, signed by all Haiti’s bishops, called for action to stop the country from descending further into chaos.

“Our dear Haiti is crossing a difficult stage in its history. Who is going to finally stop her descent into hell? The Haitian people really cannot do it anymore. They are tired, worn out, exhausted.”

The statement, from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Haiti, asked politicians and gang lords to make today (Monday, 7th February) a day of dialogue to stop the disintegration of society.

Today marks what would have been the end of President Jovenel Moïse’s term in office, had he not been assassinated in his home in the early hours of 7th July 2021.

The statement, a copy of which was sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), continued: “This is no longer the time for division, disunity, disagreement, discord and fratricidal struggles for power, for the unchecked and shameless pursuit of personal, egoistic and petty interests.

“It is time for unity, for the union that makes for strength, for the pooling of our ideas and efforts, for a national and patriotic consensus to definitively pull our country out of the deep crisis that has been going on for far too long and that seriously threatens its very existence.”

Ariel Henry who, following the death President Moïse has been acting president and prime minister, seemed to welcome calls for a unified approach to Haiti’s problems, including spiralling drug-related crime and abductions, and last August’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which plunged the nation into deeper poverty.

ACN responded to the earthquake with emergency help including tents, food, and clean drinking water.

Aid to support rebuilding is due to be delivered later this year, following a survey of the damage.

Speaking to the Miami Herald yesterday (6th February), Mr Henry said: “The heinous assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last year has brought our country to the brink of chaos, and our institutions are completely dysfunctional.

“My mission, and that of the government over which I preside, is to get our country back on track to achieve democracy as soon as possible.

“To do this, we must create the conditions to move toward free, fair and inclusive elections that will allow the Haitian people to choose their leaders.”

The bishops’ statement, which was dated 2nd February, said: “Haitians, we must combine all our forces, our energies, our intelligence, our resources and work together so that 7th February will be a day of dialogue, of consensus and of historic compromise aimed at unifying our people, and of saving and transforming our country, which finds itself at the edge of an abyss.

“Haitians, let us put the supreme good of the nation above all other personal interests to prevent our country from sinking into total chaos.”