The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that an increase in gang violence in the Haitian capital has killed nearly 200 people and displaced thousands in the past month.
Heavy armed rival factions clashed in Port-au-Prince in late April, seizing territory, forcing more than 16,800 people, including children, to flee their homes and seek temporary shelter. The flames of violence have spread to dozens of neighborhoods, with hundreds of families caught in crossfire.
According to the OCHA, of the 188 people killed between April 24 and May 26, at least 92 were non-gang members, another 113 were injured, 12 were missing and 49 were abducted for ransom.
But given the limited access to the districts where the regional conflict is taking place, the office warned that the death toll could be much higher.
The intensity and duration of the violence has devastated the country as it has been in turmoil since the assassination of President Jovenal Moises last July, and his assassination has created a power vacuum. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is preparing to debate the future of a long-term UN presence in Haiti, leaving its mandate in question.
“The armed violence in Haiti has reached unimaginable and unbearable levels,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said earlier this month, urging the Haitian authorities to restore the rule of law and redouble their efforts to redress the situation. From “getting out of control”
Officials say the level of gang violence has reached unprecedented levels. Evidence collected and cited by Bachelet includes beheadings, mutilation and burning of corpses, and the murder of juveniles accused of being informers of rival gangs.
Gangra also gang-raped children under the age of 10, a strategy to punish people living in areas under rival control, Bachelet said.
The clashes forced the closure of 11 medical centers and at least 442 schools – some were burned and stolen. They also blocked two major national highways connecting the capital with other parts of the country, restricting the movement of people and goods.
The OCHA said that while the violence appears to have subsided in the last few days, the situation remains “extremely volatile”.
The Haitian Prime Minister’s Office and Haiti police did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. However, Prime Minister Henry repeatedly said Says That his government is working to create security in the country.
Haiti has been in turmoil for years, but the violence has escalated dramatically since Moyes was assassinated on July 7, 2021.
Moises’ assassination plunged the country into political turmoil, with opposition parties refusing to recognize the appointment of current Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Henry promised a quick transfer of power and elections after taking office on July 20 last year, but was unable to reach a political agreement for change or a timeline for elections.
In addition to the security situation and political crisis, Haiti suffers from high inflation rates and food insecurity, with one in five children in the city of Soleil near Port-au-Prince suffering from severe malnutrition under the age of five. According to the United Nations.