Haiti: gang warfare hinders earthquake recovery


More than 500,000 people are in need of emergency assistance in Haiti’s southern peninsula, where last week’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake has killed more than 2,100 people and injured more than 12,200. Aid and medical efforts are hampered by debris-strewn roads, rain from Tropical Storm Grace, a shortage of working hospitals, and gang violence. The private Bernard Mevs Hospital in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where some of the injured have been sent, was closed Aug. 19 as part of a two-day shutdown to protest the kidnapping of two doctors. In recent years, Haiti has been beset by violent gangs who patrol many of the country’s transport routes. Some villagers were also reportedly blocking aid shipments, saying they were also desperate for help. The southern peninsula has yet to recover from Hurricane Matthew, which killed at least 546 people in 2016. Prime Minister Ariel Henry has promised to speed up aid efforts—more than 30,000 families have been displaced, and there are fears of cholera due to lack of safe water, sanitation, and shelter. The United States has deployed several helicopters, aircraft, and the USS Arlington to help with relief efforts. France also sent a ship with humanitarian cargo, a helicopter, and more than two dozen soldiers.

From The New Humanitarian, Aug. 20

Photo: Evens Mary/The New Humanitarian

  1. Haiti gangs call truce

    Jimmy Cherizier, AKA “Barbecue,” leader of G9 Revolutionary Forces, issued a social media statement calling for a gang truce in light of the disaster and said his followers will participate in the relief effort. “We invite all compatriots to show solidarity with the victims by trying to share what little there is with them,” he said. (Al Jazeera)

  2. Hundreds killed as Haiti gangs run riot

    Haiti’s gang violence has been an escalating problem for months, but recently became even more deadly and chaotic. Between July 8 and 17, at least 209 people were killed and 254 injured during clashes between the rival G9 and G-Pèp gangs in the capital Port-au-Prince, according to the UN. Around half of the casualties were people with no known links to gangs. Fierce gun battles were also reported in the heart of the capital on July 27, spilling out of usual hotspots like Martissant or shantytowns like CitĂ© Soleil. Thousands have been displaced, but the full impact of the fighting—including casualty figures—is difficult to confirm. “No one knows how many people have been killed or wounded… nor the exact number who have fled the area,” according to a MĂ©decins Sans Frontières report about the escalation of violence in Martissant over the past year. (TNH)

  3. Haitians protest gang violence, rising costs

    Thousands took to the streets in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince last week, protesting gang violence, rising costs of fuel and food, and demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Gang violence, which has skyrocketed since the 2021 assassination of president Jovenel MoĂŻse, has paralyzed the Caribbean nation and deepened its many humanitarian crises. In July, gang violence trapped residents in the seaside shantytown of CitĂ© Soleil without access to food or water. The unrest has also triggered fuel shortages as many drivers are too scared to make deliveries, and fuel importers have struggled to get paid. Inflation has now reached 29%, with some goods quadrupling in price. The Caribbean nation has been in political limbo since MoĂŻse’s death. Henry has refused calls to step down until elections are held, but observers say it’s too dangerous to hold elections given the level of violence. Opponents have called for an interim government. (TNH)

  4. Haiti: new armed intervention prepared

    Talk of another armed international intervention in Haiti continues, along with concern over who will lead it. The United States has proposed sending a force but has stopped short of volunteering US troops. Canada has sent a team to the Caribbean country to assess the security situation and growing humanitarian crisis. Canadians were part of an international force that arrived in 2004, when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted.  (TNH)

  5. Thousands hospitalized as cholera grips Haiti

    Nearly 200 Haitians have died of cholera in a new outbreak which is quickly spreading across the Caribbean country. The waterborne illness had not been seen in years, but several overlapping crises—gang violence, fuel shortages, currency shortages, hunger, and a dysfunctional government—have allowed it to flourish. More than 6,300 people have been hospitalized, and there is a shortage of medicine to treat those who may be infected. The last cholera outbreak, which killed some 10,000 people in 2010, was linked back to UN peacekeepers. (TNH)

  6. Police rebellion in Haiti

    Haitian police officers stormed Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s home and the national airport Jan. 26, as part of a protest over gang attacks. Gangs have killed 14 police officers since the start of the year; seven during a shoot-out the previous day. The National Union of Haitian Police Officers says the government isn’t doing enough to halt the gang violence, which last year led to some 2,100 killings, 1,300 kidnappings, and dozens of rapes. (TNH)

  7. Vigilantes beat back gangs in Haiti

    In just the past six weeks, civilian vigilante groups have killed more than 150 Haitians believed to be gang members. Seemingly in response, kidnappings and killings have dropped dramatically. But the vigilantes are hardly less violent than the gangs. In a grisly April 24 incident, 14 men arrested as gang members were arriving at a police station in Port-au-Prince, when a group of vigilantes overpowered police officers, rounded up the suspects outside, and used gasoline to burn them alive. The citizens’ “self-defense” network is known as “bwa kale,” said to be slang for “erection.” (PRI, NYT)

  8. Protests in Haiti over worsening gang violence

    Protests erupted this week over worsening gang violence in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Humanitarian needs, meanwhile, are skyrocketing. At least 530 people were killed by gangs from January to 15 March this year, and more than 2,000 have been kidnapped for ransom over the past 24 months. The US is expected to draft a UN resolution in the coming weeks to authorize an international armed force to intervene. The Bahamas, Jamaica, and Kenya are considering sending police and troops. (TNH)

  9. New clashes displace thousands in Haiti

    Armed fighting during the past week forced more than 3,500 people from 717 households to take shelter in schools and makeshift camps in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, according to IOM. In the absence of protected displacement camps, communities have been hosting many of the displaced, now numbering more than 200,000 across the Caribbean country. The US, meanwhile, is expected to submit a resolution to the UN Security Council soon calling for the deployment of an international force to help reduce the violence. (TNH)

  10. UN: over 350 people lynched in Haiti

    In a press briefing released Aug. 18, a UN official called for an end to the lynching of suspected gang members by local “self-defense” groups. In the briefing, Ravina Shamdasani, representative for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, outlined the “extreme brutality of violence” mounting in Haiti. The briefing stated that since the beginning of the year, the country has seen at least 2,439 killings and 951 kidnappings. Among those called by “salef-defense” groups are “310 alleged gang members, 46 members of the public and a police officer.” (Jurist)