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Hati is in the grip of a “cataclysmic” situation, warns the UN

  • March 29, 2024
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The situation in Haiti is “cataclysmic”, with 1,554 killed during the first three months of 2024, the UN warned on Thursday, deploring that “porous borders” facilitate the supply of gangs with weapons and ammunition.

“It is shocking that despite the horror of the situation on the ground, weapons continue to flow. I call for more effective implementation of the arms embargo,” says the High -UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, in presenting a new report.

“Structural and conjectural factors have led Haiti to a cataclysmic situation, characterized by profound political instability and extremely fragile institutions,” according to this report.

Haiti, which was already experiencing a deep political and security crisis, has been gripped by renewed violence since the beginning of the month, when several gangs joined forces to attack strategic locations in Port-au-Prince, saying they wanted to overthrow the Prime Minister. Minister Ariel Henry.

Highly contested, the latter was unable to return to his country after a trip to Kenya at the beginning of the month. He agreed to resign on March 11, and the future Haitian presidential council, which must take the reins of the country, committed Wednesday to restoring “public and democratic order.”

According to the UN, “corruption, impunity and poor governance, compounded by increasing levels of gang violence, have eroded the rule of law and brought state institutions… to the brink of collapse.” collapse.”

The number of people killed and injured by gang violence increased significantly in 2023: 4,451 killed and 1,668 injured, the report said. The number of victims is rising sharply during the first three months of 2024, with 1,554 killed and 826 injured until March 22.

“Superior Firepower”

The Office notes that despite the arms embargo, “the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition across porous borders has provided a reliable supply chain to gangs”, so that “they often have greater firepower than the Haitian national police.

Haiti is in the grip of a situation

Canadian soldiers stand guard in front of their embassy on March 28, 2024 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti / Clarens SIFFROY / AFP

He reiterates the need to urgently deploy a multinational security support mission to assist the national police in ending the violence and restoring the rule of law.

But Mr. Türk emphasizes that “it is essential that the mission effectively integrates human rights into the conduct of its operations.”

According to the report, gangs continue to use sexual violence to brutalize, punish and control the population. But sexual violence is rarely reported and most often goes unpunished.

Gangs also continue to recruit and abuse children – boys and girls, some of whom have been killed while trying to leave the groups.

Along with the escalation of gang violence and the inability of police to counter it, “vigilante brigades” continued to emerge and take the law into their own hands, the report said.

At least 528 cases of lynching (510 men and 18 women) were reported in 2023, and 59 more in 2024. While some killings appeared spontaneous, others were allegedly encouraged, supported or facilitated by police officers and gang members belonging to to the gang coalition known as G9 and its allies, according to the report.