Haiti’s alarming lawlessness and corruption have come into the spotlight as the United Nations reports over 1,000 people being held hostage for ransom in the first half of the year, with a recent case involving the kidnapping of an American nurse and her child adding to the concern.
Worryingly High Rates of Gang Violence in Haiti
Over the past two years, territorial conflicts between rival gangs in Port-au-Prince have led to extensive fear, incidents of sexual violence, torture, and loss of life. The escalating gang violence has compelled thousands of Haitians to evacuate their residences and seek refuge in makeshift camps throughout the sprawling capital city.
According to CNN, throughout Haiti, vigilante groups are reportedly responsible for multiple executions, targeting individuals they suspect to be gang members. The ongoing conflict in the capital has disrupted supply chains, resulting in a notable increase in food and energy prices. In Les Cayes, Flavia Maurello, the country director for the Italian aid group AVSI, emphasized to CNN that the prevailing sense of lawlessness has eroded the social fabric, causing local communities to overlook petty crime and other abuses that were previously intolerable.
People in Haiti are warned by the U.S. to Leave
Haiti has experienced successive waves of crime and turmoil following the assassination of former President Jovenel Moise in 2021. The current Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, has faced challenges in curbing the escalating violence, which has further complicated the prospect of conducting essential, long-postponed elections in the nation.
Three weeks ago, in Tabarre, a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders reported that nearly 20 armed individuals forcibly removed a patient from an operating room. Subsequently, the area witnessed severe gang-related assaults, leading to the mass departure of numerous Tabarre residents, including mothers with young children, who sought safety at the U.S. embassy. Tear gas was later utilized to disperse them from the embassy premises.
In response to escalating security concerns and earlier advisories against traveling to Haiti, the U.S. State Department issued an order for all non-emergency personnel to leave the country.