Amid the escalation of protests over the resignation of the current Prime Minister of Haiti, the United Nations (UN) warned of an increase in violence in the first month of the year in the country, with a worsening of poverty and control of large part of the territory by armed gangs, making this the most violent January in the last two years.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, warned last Friday (9) of the deepening human rights crisis.
“It is essential to improve security and, at the same time, combat poverty, social and economic discrimination and corruption, [medidas] necessary for long-term stability,” he said.
Türk further stated that, to date, at least 806 people who were not part of the gang fights have been killed, injured or kidnapped, as well as around 300 gang members requiring medical assistance for injuries, totaling 1,108 people affected in some way for violent actions. The number is three times higher than the January 2023 index.
The UN representative also explained that in the metropolitan region of Port-au-Prince the impact of violence affects all municipalities due to clashes between gangs for control of territories, extending to areas outside the capital.
“Inhabitants of gang-controlled areas have been directly attacked. Gangs continue to weaponize sexual violence against women and girls and spread fear by sharing horrific photos and videos of murdered people and raped women on local social media,” Türk said .
In relation to children and adolescents, the UN denounced the recruitment of minors by criminal groups. Likewise, in 2023, the number of 167 children killed or injured by gunshots was recorded. Of these, some were executed due to internal fights within the groups.
The UN’s complaints come amid a wave of protests that brought thousands of Haitians to the streets against the provisional government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and to demand general elections in the country.
According to an agreement reached in December 2022, after the assassination of former prime minister Jovenal Moïse in 2021, Henry should have called elections and left office in February 2024.
Editing: Lucas Estanislau
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