Increasing gang violence in Haiti prompted the United Nations (U.N.) on April 24 to issue an appeal in response to the crisis in Cité Soleil, one of the most populous settlements in the Caribbean nation, located west of Port-au-Prince, the capital.
“The security and humanitarian situation in many areas of Cité Soleil, with a population of several hundred thousand people, has reached alarming levels. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to gang brutality,” U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti Ulrika Richardson, said in a statement.
“The population feels under siege. They can no longer leave their homes for fear of armed violence and terror from gangs,” she added.
According to U.N. figures, at least 70 people were killed April 14-19, including 18 women and two minors, and at least 40 people were injured.
The U.N. said that clashes between armed groups rob citizens of their freedom, depriving them of “access to essential goods and services, and have resulted in the closure of many schools and health centers in the area.”
“In addition to armed violence, the population of Cité Soleil suffers from high levels of food insecurity and is one of the epicenters of the latest cholera outbreak,” the U.N. said.
“Torrential rains in recent weeks have worsened sanitary and living conditions in the neighborhood,” which is “inundated by debris from the capital” to the point that garbage blocks access and even water tankers cannot enter. “The situation is conducive to the resurgence of the cholera epidemic and the spread of other epidemics,” the report said.
Countries such as the United States, Jamaica. and Canada have offered their assistance both to support the police force and for a “humanitarian intervention” in the Caribbean country.
The current political and security crisis in Haiti escalated in July 2021 when then President Jovenel Moise was assassinated at his residence in the capital, an event still without a judicial solution after the arrest of several suspects in that country and the United States.