NewsHaiti's child soldiers: Hunger drives kids into gangs' grip

Haiti's child soldiers: Hunger drives kids into gangs' grip

Wave of violence in Haiti
Wave of violence in Haiti
Images source: © Getty Images | 2024 Anadolu

5:02 AM EDT, May 9, 2024

More and more Haitian children are being drawn into armed gangs that terrorize Haiti, asserting control over more than 90 percent of Port-au-Prince, a city housing over a million residents. This alarming trend is driven by prevalent hunger in the country, as detailed in a report released by Save the Children on Wednesday.

The report, issued by Save the Children, highlights a worrying increase in the number of Haitian children affiliating with armed groups. These groups have been sowing fear and maintaining control over a significant portion of Port-au-Prince. The compelling force behind this grim reality is the nation's widespread hunger.

Desperate children

Illustrating the grim circumstances, the report details how desperate, starved young Haitians, even those minors joining ranks with professional killers, are engaging in extreme measures. It emphasizes that an increasing number of families in Haiti are forced to survive on merely one meal a day.

In dialogues with the organization's representatives, single mothers have shared their dire circumstances, revealing they see no alternative but to turn to sex work as a means to feed their families.

The report draws comparisons with the situation in Haiti in 2021, marked by the assassination of the nation's president and a subsequent "power crisis." It notes a staggering 140 percent increase in violence compared to the year prior. From the beginning of the year until the end of March, over eighty minors involved with armed groups have been killed.

Currently, an estimated 30 to 50 percent of the gangs that spread fear across the Caribbean nation, which has a population of eleven million, include underage members. These children have either joined voluntarily or been coerced into participation.

Save the Children urgently appeals to global leaders to take immediate action to safeguard Haiti's children and youth. This plea is directed at those with the influence and capabilities to alter the dire circumstances Haiti's youngest citizens face.

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