Haiti | Prolonged state of emergency over gang violence

(Port-au-Prince) Authorities in Haiti on Thursday extended the state of emergency in the capital Port-au-Prince for another month, at a time when this poor Caribbean country is facing a surge in violence from gangs.

While control of large areas of the capital has returned to the benefit of criminal gangs, the official newspaper published a “decree establishing a state of security emergency over the entire extent of the West department”, which includes Port -au-Prince, “for a period of one month”.

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

A new nighttime curfew was also decreed on Thursday, until Monday, from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the West department.

“The state of emergency is renewed for one month, as for the curfew it will be applied if necessary,” assured a government source.

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

According to this union official, the assault had been planned since last weekend.

“Hell for all of us”

Criminal gangs, who control the roads leading from Port-au-Prince to the rest of the territory, have attacked strategic sites in the country in recent days.

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 Ariel Henry did not resign and if the international community continued to support him, the country was going “straight towards a civil war which will lead to a genocide”.

Ariel Henry, 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 lack of security around the international airport.

Thursday morning, he was still in Puerto Rico, said the spokesperson for the border police of this American territory in the Caribbean.

The crisis in Haiti “is more than unbearable for the Haitian people,” denounced Wednesday the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, while the Security Council spoke of a “critical” situation. .

While administrations and schools remain closed, many residents are trying to flee the violence.


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.

“Today the findings are clear: the 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.”

“In the absence of being able to come to the aid of the population, their presence plays an important role in restoring calm and is likely to prevent” certain crimes, according to the RNDDH.

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 “nearly 41% of violence-related deaths 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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