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Gang violence: Unicef ​​calls for accelerating efforts to protect children in Haiti

  • June 3, 2024
  • 6 Min
  • 14

P-to-P, June 3, 2024 [AlterPresse] — The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) urges the international community to accelerate its efforts to protect children trapped in armed gang violence in Haiti, in an alert noted by the agency online AlterPresse.

Unicef ​​calls for ensuring that the internationally supported security mission “prioritizes the protection of children and the safety of civilians, and is committed to upholding humanitarian law and obtaining the space necessary for humanitarian interventions.

It encourages support for “initiatives aimed at preventing and ending serious violations against children, including by ensuring the protection of schools, hospitals and other facilities on which children depend, as well as the preservation of humanitarian spaces”.

There is also a need to further support “actions undertaken, on national territory, to ensure predictable, sustainable and unimpeded humanitarian access on a large scale, including the safe movement of humanitarian and frontline workers as well as the provision of essential services and items to communities in need.”

Unicef ​​recommends increasing, without delay, flexible funding to meet the needs, in terms of humanitarian aid and protection of the most vulnerable people, as the situation evolves.

It must be ensured that aid reaches affected children as quickly as possible, including those who have fled or been liberated by armed groups.

Since the start of 2024, more than 2,500 deaths, injuries or kidnappings have been recorded in the escalation of armed gang violence in the country, the United Nations (UN) said.

From January to date (June 2024), more than 400 serious violations have been perpetrated against children, as violence continues to force thousands of families to move.

To date, more than 180,000 children are displaced within the country, according to the UN.

30% to 50% of children are believed to be part of armed groups and are “victims of coercion, abuse and exploitation in a persistent context of social, economic and political fragility, fueled by incessant violence, which has plunged various areas of Haiti in chaos”, according to Unicef.

A growing number of children in the country are being forced to join the ranks of armed groups, for lack of other means of survival or protection. Which constitutes a clear violation of their rights, he denounces.

Caught in a vicious circle of suffering, children in Haiti are pushed to join armed groups “out of sheer desperation, particularly because of violence, poverty and the collapse of systems, which should protect them,” lamented the American Catherine Mary Russell, Director General (since February 1, 2022) of Unicef.

Faced with this dramatic situation, Unicef ​​recommends taking concrete measures, aimed at guaranteeing as a priority the protection and well-being of children in Haiti, in particular by acting to put an end, in complete safety, to “the association from the latter to armed groups, ensuring their reintegration into society and providing them with safe access to essential services and supports.”

“The recruitment and use of children by armed groups constitutes a serious violation of their rights, and the recruitment of children of any age into armed groups is a clear violation of international law,” recalls the United Nations Fund. for childhood. [emb rc apr 03/06/2024 10:55]

Photo: website of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)