LifestyleHaiti in the hands of bandits: A surge in gang violence enslaves nation, says UN envoy

Haiti in the hands of bandits: A surge in gang violence enslaves nation, says UN envoy

Haiti is struggling with a big problem.
Haiti is struggling with a big problem.
Images source: © Getty Images | JOHN SEATON CALLAHAN
3:48 AM EST, January 30, 2024

Haiti shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the economically thriving tourist hub - the Dominican Republic. The UN envoy estimates that about 300 criminal gangs and armed groups control 80 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and they are accountable for 83 percent of violent crime in the city.

A Nightmare Unfolding in Haiti

"In the past year alone, there have been 8,400 deaths as a result of gang violence, a 122 percent increase compared to 2022," Maria Isabel Salvador stated. The majority of victims were murdered by gangs that have taken control over entire districts of the nation's capital. "Armed gangs have also asserted near-complete control over key agricultural areas crucial to the Haitian economy south of Port-au-Prince," she added.

"These gangs use particularly insidious methods to subjugate the population, including sexual violence," Salvador remarked.

Initiation of Aid

The UN Security Council's briefing session, which included Maria Isabel Salvador, occurred over three months after the Council greenlit the deployment of multinational forces to Haiti under Kenyan command.

Regrettably, discrepancies within the Kenyan government significantly delayed the deployment of military units on Haitian soil and the start of their mission. Eventually, though, the Kenyan parliament gave its approval.

Kenya's Ambassador, Martin Kimani, announced plans to send a 300-strong Kenyan police unit to Haiti in the early days of February. He intends to boost this number to a thousand by the end of the month.

Five other African nations have pledged to extend their support to their "Haitian brothers." Except for descendants of the Polish legion dating back to the Napoleonic wars, Haiti's population is predominantly of African origin.

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