Gang violence, inflation and food insecurity deepen Haiti’s crisis

July marks one year since the assassination of Haiti’s president, and the country’s crisis appears to have worsened with the escalation of gang activity over the past months in and around the capital.

Political turmoil is no stranger to Haiti. On July 7, 2021, a dark history unfolded when the country’s president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated by a group of gunmen in his home. The killing led to the emergence of a country already witnessing violent inter-gang violence and protests against authoritarian rule descending further into anarchy.

Just over a month later, Haiti was hit by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake – killing more than 2,000 people and injuring thousands more. The earthquake caused devastating damage to buildings, homes and schools especially in rural areas where nearly 80% of the affected population lives.

Motorcyclists pass a burning barrier as anger mounts over a fuel shortage that has intensified as a result of gang violence, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 13, 2022.

Ralph Teddy Errol/Reuters

According to a recent report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) dated June 2, at least 188 people were killed in Port-au-Prince, including 96 suspected gang members due to gang violence, and nearly 17,000 people were killed. . Displaced since late April.

“We were faced with decomposing or burning bodies,” MSF said in a statement this week. “It could be people who were killed during the clashes or people who tried to leave and got shot – it’s a real battlefield.”

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday by 15 votes to none calling on all countries to halt the transfer of small arms, light weapons and ammunition to any party in crisis-ridden Haiti that supports gang violence and criminal activity, according to the Associated Press. The press reported.

The resolution drafted by the United States and Mexico expresses “grave concern about the extremely high levels of gang violence and other criminal activities, including kidnappings, killings, and sexual and gender-based violence, as well as the continued impunity of perpetrators, and the consequences thereof,” according to an Associated Press report. It also extended the mission of “Binot” in Haiti until July 15, 2023.

However, the immediate impact of the decision remains unclear. Heavily armed gangs have closed roads across the north and south, impeding humanitarian access to the most vulnerable.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that malnutrition rates in the Cité Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince have risen with 20% of children under five suffering from acute malnutrition.

Photo: People walk around burning tires erected by taxi drivers to protest the country's fuel shortage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 13, 2022.

People walk around burning tires erected by taxi drivers to protest the country’s fuel shortage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 13, 2022.

Odelyn Joseph / AP

According to a statement released this week by the United Nations World Food Program, “Insecurity in and around Port-au-Prince has worsened dramatically since early May, disrupting nationwide supply chains and accessing essential services such as markets, schools, hospitals and the livelihoods of Haitians in All over the country, the violence is causing a serious protection crisis and making it difficult for people to get and buy food.”

“This comes against a backdrop of a global food crisis where the rising costs associated with the conflict in Ukraine are exacerbating the problems. Haiti is already experiencing a staggering 26 percent inflation. The island nation is particularly vulnerable to shocks in global food and fuel markets where it imports 70 percent of its grains. On top of these challenges, the ongoing Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be more active than usual, endangering the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable Haitians.”

Road closures have created serious security concerns for humanitarian operations.

“The only safe option for humanitarians to move is by air and, without adequate funding, the UN International Air Transport Services [United Nations Humanitarian Air Service]faces an imminent closure by the end of July 2022. Ultimately, this not only jeopardizes WFP assistance, but also jeopardizes humanitarian operations across the country,” said Jean-Martin Bauer, WFP Country Director in Haiti.

As Haiti grapples with multiple crises at home, it also faces potential impacts from the ongoing Atlantic hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has forecast an above-normal hurricane season for 2022, which runs from June through November, with three to six storms that could reach Category 3, 4 or 5.

Haiti appears to be facing an uncertain future ahead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.