(United Nations) Insecurity in the Haitian capital has reached levels “comparable to those of countries in a situation of war”, alarmed the UN in a report published Monday which underlines a significant increase in homicides and kidnappings in the country.
“The people of Haiti remain in the grip of one of the worst human rights crises in decades and a major humanitarian emergency,” Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ report describes.
“Due to the high number of deaths and the growing area of areas controlled by armed gangs, insecurity in the capital has reached levels comparable to those in countries in situations of armed conflict”, he adds.
Between January 1 and March 31, the number of reported homicides in the country increased by 21% compared to the previous quarter (815 against 673), and the number of kidnappings by 63% (637 against 391).
The armed gangs “continue to compete for control of territory in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, and extend to neighborhoods hitherto spared”, also notes the report, describing clashes “more violent and more frequent between gangs, and between police and gangs.
As a result, “the situation of people living in areas controlled by armed gangs remains quite appalling” and “in areas recently targeted by gangs, the situation is deteriorating drastically.”
“Fighting is raging in Cité Soleil,” UN humanitarian coordinator for Haiti Ulrika Richardson said in a statement on Sunday. “Residents feel beleaguered. They can no longer leave their homes for fear of gun violence and terror imposed by gangs,” she added.
According to the statement, between April 14 and 19, clashes between rival gangs left nearly 70 people dead, including 18 women and at least two minors.
In this context, the Secretary General repeats in his report that “there is an urgent need to deploy a specialized international armed force” in particular to help the police to restore order.
Antonio Guterres had relayed in October a call for help from Prime Minister Ariel Henry, asking the Security Council to send this force. But without result since: while a few countries have indicated that they are ready to participate, none seem to want to take the lead.