Haiti | Prolonged state of emergency and main port shut down

(Port-au-Prince) The port of Haiti’s capital was at a standstill Thursday amid a surge in gang violence that forced authorities in this poor Caribbean country to extend a state of emergency to Port au Prince.




Criminal gangs, who control most of the capital as well as the roads leading to the rest of the territory, have been attacking strategic sites in the country for several days in the absence of the contested Prime Minister Ariel Henry, whose resignation they are demanding. just like part of the population.

Caribbean Port Services SA, the operator of the capital’s port, announced Thursday that it was suspending its activity due to “disturbing public order”, citing “malicious acts of sabotage and vandalism” suffered since 1er March.

The official newspaper had earlier published a “decree establishing a state of security emergency throughout the West department”, which includes the capital, “for a period of one month”.

A new nighttime curfew has also been declared until Monday.

A first state of emergency, accompanied by a curfew – difficult to enforce – had already been declared on Sunday after the attack on prisons by armed gangs which resulted in the escape of thousands of inmates.

“Hell for all of us”

Among the strategic infrastructures targeted in recent days by gang violence are also courts and police stations.

PHOTO RALPH TEDY EROL, REUTERS

A police station that was burned down by gang members in the Haitian capital

A new police station was set on fire Wednesday evening in Port-au-Prince, Lionel Lazarre, general coordinator of the National Union of Haitian Police Officers (Synapoha), told AFP, but the police had time to leave before the attack.

According to a Synapoha count, since the start of the coordinated gang attacks, 10 police buildings have been destroyed and two civilian prisons attacked and emptied of their inmates.

An influential gang leader, Jimmy Chérizier known as “Barbecue”, assured Tuesday that if Prime Minister Henry did not resign and if the international community continued to support him, the country of around 11 million inhabitants was going “straight towards a civil war that will lead to genocide.”

The leader, who should have left office at the beginning of February, was abroad and has still not managed to return to Haiti, prevented in particular by the insecurity around the international airport.

Thursday morning, Ariel Henry was still in Puerto Rico, the border police spokesperson for this American Caribbean territory told AFP.

The health system in Haiti is “close to collapse,” warned the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“Many health facilities are closed or have had to drastically reduce their operations due to a worrying shortage of medicines and the absence of medical staff,” OCHA said.

While administrations and schools remain closed, many residents are trying to flee the violence, their meager belongings under their arms.

“Abandoned”

The association National Network for the Defense of Human Rights in Haiti (RNDDH) denounced the inaction of the Haitian state in the face of this violence.

“Government authorities have resigned,” she wrote in a report dated Wednesday.

“The streets of the capital and the entire West department are given over to armed bandits. And the Haitian population is simply abandoned to its fate,” adds the association, which deplores the fact that the police have “abandoned the streets.”

Among its recommendations: “Do everything possible to regain control of the national territory as a whole.”

To this end, the UN Security Council gave its agreement in October to send a multinational security mission led by Kenya, which wants to send 1,000 police officers. But its deployment is delayed by the Kenyan justice system and a glaring lack of funding. No date has been given for the arrival of the mission.

The NGO Médecins sans Frontières published Thursday a survey on mortality in Haiti for more than 10 years, which “reveals extreme levels of violence suffered by residents of the Cité Soleil slum in Port-au-Prince”, with August 2022 to July 2023 “nearly 41% of deaths linked to violence and a crude mortality rate of 0.63 deaths per 10,000 people per day”.

“MSF had already observed similar mortality rates in 2017, in the camps of Raqqa”, a Syrian city former stronghold of the Islamic State group, assures the NGO, which announced on Wednesday strengthening its presence in Port-au-Prince to respond to the influx of wounded.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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