Haiti: gang warfare hinders earthquake recovery

haiti-quake-rubble

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)