Thursday, March 30, 2023

At least 234 killed and injured in 5 days of gang violence in Haiti, UN says

At Least 234 Killed And Injured In 5 Days Of Gang Violence In Haiti, Un Says

Gang violence killed or injured at least 234 people between July 8 and 12 in Cité Soleil, an impoverished and densely populated neighborhood of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, the United Nations said on Saturday.

Riots broke out between two rival factions, and the city’s poorly equipped and understaffed police failed to intervene, trapping residents in their homes, unable to even go outside to fetch food and water.

With many houses in the slums made of sheet metal, residents fell victim to stray bullets. Ambulances were unable to reach those in need.

“Most of the victims were not directly involved in gangs and were directly targeted by gang elements. We have also received new reports of sexual violence,” said Jeremy Laurence, a spokesman for the UN human rights office.

Earlier this week, the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights, a Haitian organization, had calculated the balance of 89 people dead, 16 missing and 74 injured.

During the six months from January to June, the UN human rights office put the death toll at 934, with a further 684 injured. A total of 680 kidnappings also occurred during that period, he said.

“We are deeply concerned about the worsening violence in Port-au-Prince and the increase in human rights abuses committed by heavily armed gangs against the local population,” Laurence said.

“We urge the authorities to ensure that all human rights are protected and placed front and center in their responses to the crisis.”

The bloodshed in Haiti has come alongside soaring food prices and chronic fuel shortages, a toxic mix that has accelerated a brutal downward spiral in the security situation in Port-au-Prince.

Aid agencies say many areas are impossible to access due to dangerous conditions.

“We call on those responsible for and supporters of this armed violence to immediately desist and respect the lives and livelihoods of all Haitians, the majority of whom live in extreme poverty,” Laurence said.

Mumuza Muhindo, head of the local Doctors Without Borders mission, told AFP that his group had operated on an average of 15 patients a day during the spike in violence.

“It’s a real battlefield,” Muhindo said. “It is impossible to estimate how many people have died.”

Cité Soleil is home to an oil terminal that supplies the capital and all of northern Haiti, so the fighting has had a devastating effect on the region’s economy and people’s daily lives.

Gas stations in Port-au-Prince have no fuel to sell, causing prices on the black market to skyrocket.

“We are seeing a significant increase in hunger in the capital and in the south of the country, with Port-au-Prince being the most affected,” Jean-Martin Bauer, director of the World Food Program, said on Tuesday.

For the past several years, Haiti has witnessed a wave of mass kidnappings, as gangs kidnap people from all walks of life, including foreigners, off the streets.

Emboldened by police inaction, the gangs have become increasingly brazen.

Haiti announced a rare seizure of weapons in shipping containers Thursday night: 18 military-grade weapons, four 9mm pistols, 14,646 rounds of ammunition and $50,000 in counterfeit money.

The next day, the UN Security Council called on member states to ban the transfer of small arms to the Caribbean nation, but fell short of a full embargo requested by China.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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