I thank Special Envoy María Salvador for her briefing in her new capacity as head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, and I would like to express Switzerland's continued support for the implementation of her mandate. I also thank the Executive Director of the Office on Drugs and Crime, Ms. Ghada Waly, for her intervention, and we welcome the presence at this meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as the presence of the Permanent Representative of Canada.
The words that we have just heard illustrate the continuing deterioration of the security situation and the gross violations of human rights that Haitians face on a daily basis. The freedom and the movement of the population in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area is severely restricted. Almost no area of the capital and its surroundings is spared from gang violence. We condemn the systematic use of sexual violence by gangs, as well as the targeting of children and the recruitment of minors. The Secretary-General's report highlights that insecurity in the capital has reached levels comparable to those of countries experiencing armed conflicts.
Restoring stability and security in the country remains a primary task. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced. Addressing gang violence, including through their disarmament, is a prerequisite for efforts to rebuild state structures. Through its continued presence in various regions of Haiti, Switzerland aims to provide humanitarian assistance in these difficult times.
Let me highlight the following three points:
Firstly, food insecurity must be reduced urgently and sustainably. Almost half of the population is experiencing acute food insecurity and an estimated 1.8 million people are now in an emergency situation. The severity of the food crisis has deteriorated rapidly over the past two years. The levels are unprecedented. Due to structural challenges, the adverse effects of climate change and recurrent natural disasters exacerbate this situation. In addition, the expansion of gang activity in areas important for food production risks plunging even more people into hunger. Switzerland has increased its funding for the World Food Programme. We encourage humanitarian and development organizations to continue to provide the necessary emergency aid. Without food security, stability in Haiti will not be possible.
Secondly, the safe, timely and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance remains essential for the survival of many people. Gang activities restrict access to the population in urgent need of basic goods and services. Unrestricted access for humanitarian personnel must be guaranteed. Switzerland is concerned about the continued attacks by gangs on medical personnel and critical infrastructure, teachers and humanitarian actors. We echo the Secretary-General's call for their protection. Our long-standing engagement in Haiti has shown that, despite the difficult security situation, strengthening communities and their government institutions at the municipal and departmental levels can make a difference. In the south of the country, for example, Switzerland is committed to strengthening local governance of water and sanitation.
Thirdly, in addition to the some progresses that have been made at the political level, the strengthening of the judicial system must be accelerated without delay. Impunity and corruption must be tackled to effectively combat the growing autonomy and independence of gangs and to break the cycle of violence.
The international community must stand by the Haitians to meet their needs and to support them in their search for a consensus to overcome the political crisis. This is also important to create the conditions for safe and free elections. Switzerland is committed to these efforts.
I thank you.