Haiti crisis: Surge in gang violence, food insecurity envelopes nation

Haiti crisis: Surge in gang violence, food insecurity envelopes nation

It’s being called apocalyptic. Some streets in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, look like a war zone. Canada Embassy is on a major thoroughfare and has, for more than a week, been protected by Canadian Special Forces.

The only safe way in or out is by helicopter. This was one of nine airlifts to the Dominican Republic Thursday, but for most, the UN says the city is an open-air prison or worse. There’s no way out by air, land, or sea, and in fact, it’s not even so open-air anymore because people are often afraid to leave their houses.

While gang violence makes some afraid to leave their homes, others are afraid to stay. The UN says last summer, about 50,000 people were classified as internally displaced, basically refugees in their own country. That number is now about eight times higher.

There are also more and more reports of torture, disappearances, and deaths. The numbers are all going very much in the wrong direction very quickly. Now, one of the gang leaders controlling territory in the capital is Jimmy Chéris, known as “Barbecue.” He also leads a sort of gang alliance called “Viv and San” or “Living Together.”

A team with Sky News visited Chéris’s neighborhood this week. The gang leader says he would consider a ceasefire but wants to be included in talks to pick a new prime minister. Acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry is still stuck outside the country.

Ariel Henry is set to step down when his replacement is chosen by the new transitional council, but Chéris says that decision is still being made by the same people who led Haiti in the past. Police are trying to show strength.

This was a video released Wednesday promising officers are on a war footing day and night. While gangs control about 80% of the capital, one UN expert says about 5,000 foreign police officers would be needed to stabilize the country.

The planned force from Kenya is now on hold, and it’s only supposed to be a thousand officers. Well, the UN has a warning: if an international stabilization force isn’t moved in to support Haitian police soon, it says there may not be a Haitian police force to support. Mike Armstrong, Global News, Montreal.

Gang Violence Creates Humanitarian Crisis

Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, is descending into a state of anarchy. The situation is so dire, some are calling it “apocalyptic.” Streets resemble war zones, with gang violence forcing residents to choose between the dangers of staying home or fleeing.

Canadian Embassy on Lockdown:

  • The Canadian embassy, located on a major thoroughfare, has been under siege for over a week. Protected by Canadian special forces, the only safe exit is by helicopter. Nine airlifts to the Dominican Republic were conducted on Thursday alone.

City in Gridlock:

  • The UN describes Port-au-Prince as an “open-air prison” or worse. Movement is severely restricted as air, land, and sea routes are effectively blocked. Fear keeps many residents trapped inside their homes.

Internal Displacement Soars:

  • Last summer, the UN reported roughly 50,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Haiti. This number has skyrocketed eightfold due to the recent surge in violence.
  • Reports of torture, disappearances, and deaths are becoming increasingly common.

Gang Leader Seeks Inclusion:

  • Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, a powerful gang leader, has expressed a willingness to consider a ceasefire. However, he demands involvement in negotiations to choose a new Prime Minister.
  • Acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry is set to resign upon the selection of a replacement by the new transitional council. Cherizier objects, claiming the council is comprised of the same figures responsible for Haiti’s current problems.

Police Struggle for Control:

  • In an attempt to project strength, police released a video on Wednesday promising round-the-clock vigilance.
  • The reality is grim, with gangs estimated to control roughly 80% of the capital.
  • A UN expert believes a stabilizing force of at least 5,000 foreign officers is needed. A planned deployment of 1,000 Kenyan officers is currently on hold.

Urgent Action Needed:

  • The UN warns that without immediate deployment of an international force to support the Haitian police, the entire force may collapse.

Haiti is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. The international community is urged to take swift action to prevent further deterioration and stabilize the country.

The Toronto Post on Google News

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