Escalation of gang violence, “widespread” impunity, “endemic” corruption… The crisis in Haiti has “intensified further” over the past year, the UN Secretary-General warned on Wednesday, September 27, calling for “solid international support.”
“The multi-faceted crisis that Haiti is currently experiencing, characterized primarily by organized gang violence, has further intensified since the introduction of the sanctions regime in October 2022,” writes Antonio Guterres in a document.
This report comes as Security Council members negotiate the one-year mandate of an international force that Port-au-Prince has requested to support police overwhelmed by gang violence. This is a non-UN mission in which Kenya must take the lead.
Almost 2,800 murders in eight months
For a year now, the gang violence that has firmly gripped the capital and beyond has “become even more intense and brutal,” warns Antonio Guterres, describing the use of rape as a weapon of terror and the presence of snipers on rooftops or the burning of people alive people by fire, but also the emergence of a self-defense movement in the spring.
In total, almost 2,800 murders were recorded between October 2022 and June 2023; According to the report, nearly eighty victims were minors. The number of kidnappings for ransom, which are probably underestimated, has also increased: almost 1,500 cases were registered last year. This violence “is fueled by arms and ammunition trafficking”, especially from the USA, and “by illegal financial flows”, denounces the Secretary General of the United Nations.
Also read: Haiti: 30 dead in an attack in Port-au-Prince, the capital ravaged by gangs
As a result, “the members of armed gangs are more numerous and better armed” than the around 14,000 police officers at the end of June 2023. And “the gangs use larger caliber weapons and more sophisticated equipment.” Given this situation, more than 5% of the workforce left the police in the first half of the year.
Need for “strong international support”
Beyond the violence itself, the report regrets that “impunity remains a widespread problem.” Several iconic cases, including the assassination of the last president Jovenel Moïse two years ago, are not progressing and the safety of judges is a problem. And “corruption remains endemic” in all areas of government, from bribery to embezzlement, not forgetting money laundering.
In an overburdened justice system, the situation in prisons has also worsened, with an average area of 0.3 square meters for each of the 11,800 prisoners (including 9,950 in pre-trial detention).
“Stabilizing security conditions in Haiti requires solid international support, not only for the national police to restore security, but also for prison services, the justice system, customs controls and border management,” emphasized Antonio Guterres. All this, accompanied by “sufficient” financing.
Read also: Haiti: “worrying” increase in kidnappings of minors and women, warns Unicef