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Gangs are now expanding into rural regions in Haiti, while Türk emphasizes the need for a new force to be sent in.
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Gangs are now expanding into rural regions in Haiti, while Türk emphasizes the need for a new force to be sent in.

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) and the UN political mission in Haiti (BINUH) released a report on Tuesday, urging for the prompt deployment of the multinational security support mission that was approved by the UN Security Council in October.

However, the report also highlights the need for increased measures to bolster the institutions responsible for upholding the rule of law in Haiti, specifically the police, judiciary, and penitentiary system.

Displaced women and children are now living in a school in  Port-au-Prince after fleeing their homes during gang attacks.

© UNOCHA/Giles Clarke

Women and children who have been forced to leave their homes due to gang violence are currently seeking shelter in a school located in Port-au-Prince.

Killing fields

The study centers on the Bas-Artibonite region, situated in the heart of Haiti and approximately 100 kilometers away from the capital city of Port-au-Prince. This area has experienced a notable rise in gang-related violence within the last two years. Between January 2022 and October 2023, there were a reported 1,694 cases of fatalities, injuries, or abductions in Bas-Artibonite.

According to the report, the kidnapping of public transport passengers for ransom by criminal organizations has become a recurring source of fear in the district.

The story of Darleine, a 22-year-old woman, is just one of many: she was dragged off a bus in March this year by gang members, who held her captive for more than two weeks and repeatedly beat and raped her.

Several weeks following her release, she took her own life.

The report details incidents of criminal organizations attacking neighboring villages, murdering residents and committing acts of sexual violence against women and children.

The gangs are also stealing from farmers’ land, crops, and animals and damaging irrigation systems, leading to over 22,000 people being forced to leave their homes.

The has greatly decreased the available farmland, leading to a rise in food insecurity.

In September, over 45% of the Bas-Artibonite population was suffering from severe food insecurity. Additionally, gang violence has hindered farming families from repaying debts or obtaining necessary services.

A cataclysmic situation

The High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, Volker Türk, has issued a warning that in Haiti, a total of 3,960 individuals have lost their lives, 1,432 have been wounded, and 2,951 have been taken in kidnappings as a result of gang-related conflicts only in this year.

The current state of affairs in Haiti is extremely disastrous. We are consistently receiving updates of murders, sexual assault, forced relocation, and other forms of violence – even within hospitals, according to his statement.

In light of the terrible acts of violence occurring both within and outside of Port-au-Prince, and the police’s inability to control them, it is crucial that a multinational security force is sent to Haiti without delay.

The High Commissioner emphasized the importance of including internal monitoring systems and other measures to ensure that the support mission adheres to international human rights principles and standards.

Given the increase in violent incidents and the recent report from the UN Group of Experts on Haiti, this document also urges the Security Council to revise the roster of people and organizations facing UN sanctions.

The High Commissioner emphasized the importance of enforcing the arms embargo and sanctions against those responsible for the current situation in Haiti. They also urged the Haitian authorities to fulfill their obligations regarding human rights and implement strong measures to improve governance, including combating corruption and impunity.