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Haiti Sees Surge In Gang Violence, 2,500+ Casualties: UN

The crisis of gang violence in Haiti has reached staggering new levels, according to a sobering report released by the United Nations on Friday. From January through March of this year, more than 2,500 people were killed or injured in incidents related to the rampant gang warfare plaguing the Caribbean nation – a 53% increase from the last three months of 2023.

The grim statistics paint a picture of escalating bloodshed and lawlessness. At least 590 deaths occurred during police operations against the gangs, with the UN finding that some of the victims were apparently uninvolved civilians, including those with disabilities. Disturbingly, the report also confirms that at least 141 people were killed by vigilante justice groups taking matters into their own hands.

While the capital of Port-au-Prince remains the epicentre of violence, with neighbourhoods like La Saline and Cite Soleil experiencing prolonged, large-scale attacks, the chaos has rippled across the wider West Department and agricultural Artibonite region as well. Gang members were found to be perpetrating rapes against women and girls in both rival territories and displacement camps.

The UN estimates that hundreds of thousands have been internally displaced by the crisis, forced to flee their homes and seek refuge elsewhere as the gangs tighten their grip. Yet despite criticism from the world body, countries like the United States and the neighbouring Dominican Republic have continued deporting migrants back into the deteriorating security situation in Haiti.

The surge in bloodshed escalated on February 29th, when unelected Prime Minister Ariel Henry travelled to Kenya to fast-track an international security support mission – only to resign under US pressure days later with a new government yet to be installed. In the power vacuum, the UN reports gangs have “changed their tactics,” directly targeting public institutions, strategic infrastructure like ports and airports, as well as police buildings.

At least 22 police facilities have been looted or burned, with 19 officers killed or injured as the gangs move to cut off supply routes into Haiti, exacerbating the nation’s healthcare and hunger crises. The UN is renewing urgent calls for the stalled international security mission to be rapidly deployed, as well as updated sanctions, more significant efforts to block arms trafficking, secure safe passage for aid, and rehabilitation programs for children recruited into the gangs.

With no clear political solution in sight, Haiti’s spiral of gang violence shows no signs of abating, threatening to plunge the fragile nation into even deeper turmoil in the months ahead.

Also Read: Max Azzarello: The Man Who Set Himself Ablaze Outside Trump’s Hush-Money Trial

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