Members of a self-defense group pose with machetes, on March 31, 2023, on a street in Diégue, a neighborhood in the Petion-ville commune, in Port-au-Prince (Haiti). With illegal weapons, machetes, Molotov cocktails and even bottles and pieces of wood, young Haitians go out in brigades, regularly at night, to try to defend the entrances to their neighborhoods from the bloody attacks of the gangs. EFE/ Johnson Sabin

Uncertain arrival of UN troops means more gang violence in Haiti

Port-au-Prince, Oct 2 (EFE).- The arrival of a multinational force to help the Haitian police eradicate armed gang violence will have to wait as there is no set date. However, the UN Security Council approved the deployment of international troops on Monday, a year after Haiti’s request.

Although violence has been a long-standing problem in Haiti since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021, the insecurity situation has degenerated into terror at the hands of gangs in their struggles to control territory, especially the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince.

The escalation of violence led the Prime Minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry, to ask for international intervention on October 2022 since it was impossible to stop the gangs that murdered, raped, robbed, and kidnapped the population during their confrontations.

One year after his request, the UN Security Council on Monday approved the deployment of a multinational force for one year (renewable) to support the Haitian police in a resolution adopted by 13 votes in favor and two abstentions (China and Russia), with no dissenting vote among the 15 members of the Council.

According to the UN Human Rights Office, at least 2,439 people have died so far in 2023 due to gang violence, and at least 951 have been kidnapped, according to a report published on 28 September.

Violence continues to rise, as evidenced by a 14% increase in the number of victims of gang-related homicides, injuries, and kidnappings in the second quarter of 2023.

The gangs also use rapes to terrorize citizens, sexually assaulting the victims in front of their relatives, then killing the men and setting fire to homes in areas belonging to rival gangs.

As a result of the violence, thousands of Haitians have been internally displaced. They are now living in improvised camps without essential services, taking refuge in schools, public buildings, and squares in areas not yet under the direct control of the gangs.

The atrocities occur without the Haitian National Police (PNH) being able to confront the gang members, which has led the population to take justice into their own hands with summary executions of suspected members of armed gangs or their accomplices through the self-defense movement “Bwa Kalé” (“bare wood” in Creole). EFE