The UN Deeply Concerned Over Hundreds of Deaths and Kidnappings in Haiti

Published: 24 March 2023

Haiti UN CorpsA woman checks the body of a deceased victim in Port-au-Prince. (Photo: UN Photo/Logan Abassi, Flickr, License)

By Vinicius Madureira

During the first two weeks of March, Haiti, which is almost four times smaller than the state of New York, recorded 208 gang-related killings, 164 injuries, and 101 kidnappings. The United Nations expressed deep concern about the recent surge of extreme violence in the small Caribbean nation that shares an island with the Dominican Republic.

Haiti has been engulfed in violent clashes between rival gangs in the capital city of Port-au-Prince and other regions, as gangs try to expand their territorial control by targeting people in areas controlled by rivals.

The country’s vibrant culture and exotic beaches contrasts its long history of poverty, corruption, political instability, and natural disasters. Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, the political situation has become even more unstable.

According to the UN Office in Haiti, since the beginning of 2023, over 530 people were killed, 300 injured and 277 kidnapped in gang-related incidents. Last year’s gang violence resulted in the deaths of 2,183 people.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, visited the country and called for urgent action, including the deployment of a specialized support force under international human rights laws and norms. The spokesperson for the OHCHR, Marta Hurtado, has echoed this call for action, urging the international community to help the Haitian people.

“We are gravely concerned that extreme violence continues to spiral out of control in Haiti,” said Hurtado.

Gangs have been terrorizing Haitians with random shootings, sexual violence against women and girls, and kidnappings. According to Hurtado, snipers killed or injured most of the victims by indiscriminately shooting at people in their homes or on the streets.

Students and teachers have also been hit by stray bullets during gang confrontations, and the kidnapping of parents and students near schools has surged, leading to many schools closing down. At the same time, gangs have recruiting children forcibly.

A U.N. report released earlier last month offered the example of Rose, a pregnant mother of four, who was severely beaten and raped in front of her children by three masked men. Earlier that day, her husband had been shot by members of the same gang. Before leaving, the gunmen set her house on fire.

As a result of the violence, at least 160,000 people have been displaced, and half of the population does not have enough to eat.