un violence in haiti reaches ‘unprecedented levels’
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti A surge in gang violence in Haiti has left hundreds of people dead, injured, or displaced in recent months, with women and children particularly vulnerable to rape, kidnapping, and other abuses.
The violence has been concentrated in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and in the surrounding areas, where armed gangs have been fighting for control of territory and lucrative criminal activities. The gangs have also been targeting civilians, including journalists, human rights defenders, and aid workers.
In a report released on Friday, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that the violence in Haiti has reached “unprecedented levels” and is “having a devastating impact on the lives of ordinary people.”
Human Rights Watch said in a report released today that criminal groups’ killings, kidnappings, and sexual violence in and around Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, have dramatically increased since the beginning of 2023 with a meager to nonexistent state response.
“Living a Nightmare: Haiti Needs an Urgent Rights-Based Response to Escalating Crisis,” a 98-page report, details abuses carried out by criminal organizations and state inaction in four metropolitan Port-au-Prince communes between January and April 2023: Cabaret, Cité Soleil, Croix-des-Bouquets, and Port-au-Prince itself. Nearly half of the population in Haiti suffers from severe food insecurity, and the state is essentially nonexistent. Human Rights Watch also evaluated the humanitarian, political, and judicial crises, as well as the abuses associated with earlier international interventions and the lingering effects of slavery, colonial powers’ exploitation, and abuse.
The OHCHR called on the Haitian government to take urgent action to stop the violence and protect civilians. The agency also called on the international community to provide assistance to Haiti to help the country recover from the crisis.
The violence of these criminal groups has been made worse by the continued flow of weapons and ammunition into Haiti, mostly from the US state of Florida. The Haitian government has not done enough to protect its people from this violence. Many of the groups are said to have connections with high-ranking politicians, business people, and police officers. From what we know, no one responsible for killings, kidnappings, or sexual violence, or anyone who helped them, has been charged or convicted since the beginning of 2023.
The violence in Haiti has its roots in a number of factors, including political instability, poverty, and climate change. The government has been unable to maintain law and order, and the security forces have been largely ineffective in combating the gangs.
Poverty is also a major factor in the violence. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, and many people are desperate for money. Over 60% of Haitians are living below the poverty level, which is equal to approximately 11.5 million. The gangs offer them a way to make money, even if it means committing violent crimes.
Climate change is also playing a role in the violence. Haiti is prone to natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods. These disasters have displaced people and made them more vulnerable to exploitation by gangs.
The violence in Haiti is a humanitarian crisis that is causing immense suffering. The international community must do more to help the country recover and prevent further violence.