un human rights chief calls for special
Last updated on February 13th, 2023 at 05:18 am
UN Human Rights Commissioner Volker Turk on Friday called on the international community to deploy a specialised armed force to one of the poorest countries in the world, raising warnings against violent gangs creating a “living nightmare” for scores of people.
The appeal from Turk came at the end of a two-day visit to Haiti at the request of a government unable to bring under control gangs that are killing random innocent people, raping dozens of women and girls, and pillaging in a growing number of neighbourhoods.
The impoverished country has been seeing a dramatic spike in violence since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise in his private residence in the capital, Port-au-Prince. The incident plunged Haiti, already suffering from an economic crisis, natural disasters, and rising violence, into further turmoil.
A number of people have been arrested in connection with the case. But with the investigation being slow, the exact details are only beginning to emerge now.
Turk fears “the situation in Haiti is not receiving the urgent spotlight that it deserves,” since dozens of emergencies across the world are competing for attention.
Shortly after the UN rights chief held a news conference, the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti released a report concerning mass incidents of murder, gang rapes, and sniper attacks in the country’s biggest slum, Cite Soleil, located in Port-au-Prince.
From last July 8 to December 31, according to the 24-page report, at least 263 people were murdered and at least 57 women and girls were raped in just a single neighbourhood within the slum.
People who attempted to flee the violence were killed at makeshift checkpoints.
“This violence and these abuses are not committed randomly, but are motivated by the interest of political actors in controlling territories,” the report mentioned.
Haiti’s largest gang G9 Family and Allies has been accused of blocking access to food and water by damaging public water mains and threatening to kill water truck drivers if they entered certain neighbourhoods, among other methods.
Turk has urged the international community to help Haitian authorities regain full control so this wave of violence that has displaced tens of thousands of people can be stopped.