Nearly 200 dead in a month as gang violence increases in Haiti


Heavily armed rival gangs began clashing with new intensity in late April to take over territory in Port-au-Prince, forcing more than 16,800 people, including children, to leave their homes and seek shelter in temporary housing. The eruption of violence has spread to dozens of neighborhoods, with hundreds of families caught in the crossfire.

According to OCHA, at least 92 of the 188 people who died between April 24 and May 26 were non-gang members, an additional 113 people were injured, 12 missing and 49 kidnapped for ransom.

But given limited access to the districts where territorial fighting is underway, the office warned the death toll could be much higher.

The intensity and duration of the violence has ravaged the country as it continues to recover from the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last July and the power vacuum left by his assassination. The UN Security Council, meanwhile, is preparing to debate the future of the UN’s long-standing presence in Haiti, leaving a question mark over its mandate in the country.
“Armed violence in Haiti has reached an unimaginable and unacceptable level,” said Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, earlier this month. from “get out of hand”.

Officials say the scale of gang violence has reached unprecedented levels. Testimonials collected and quoted by Bachelet include beheadings, the chopping and burning of bodies, and the killing of minors accused of being informants for rival gangs.

Gangs have also raped children as young as 10 years old, a tactic used to punish people living in areas under rival control, Bachelet said.

The clashes have forced 11 medical centers and at least 442 schools to close, some of which have burned down and broken into. They have also blocked the two main national roads connecting the capital to the rest of the country, restricting the movement of people and goods.

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OCHA said that although the violence appeared to have abated in recent days, the situation still remained “very unstable”.

The office of the Haitian Prime Minister and the Haiti police have not responded to CNN’s request for comment. However, Prime Minister Henry has repeatedly… said that his government is working to create security in the country.

Haiti has been in turmoil for years, but violence has escalated dramatically since the murder of Moïse on July 7, 2021.

The assassination of Moise plunged the country into political chaos, with opposition groups refusing to recognize the appointment of the current Prime Minister, Ariel Henry. Henry had promised a swift transfer of power and elections when he took office on July 20 last year, but has failed to reach a political agreement for the transition or an election timetable.

In addition to the security situation and political crisis, Haiti also faces high inflation and food insecurity, with one in five children living in the Cité Soleil area, near Port-au-Prince, under the age of 5 suffering from acute malnutrition, the UN said. .

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