PORT-OF-PRINCE, HAITI- Haiti’s capital has reached levels of insecurity similar to war-torn countries, the United Nations said Monday in a report that highlighted a spike in murders and kidnappings.
According to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ report, armed gangs expanded their territorial control into previously unaffected neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.
“With the high number of fatalities and increasing areas under the control of armed gangs, insecurity in the capital has reached levels comparable to countries in armed conflict,” it added.
As of March 31, there were 815 reported homicides in Haiti between January 1 and March 31, a 21 percent increase from 673 in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Reports of kidnapping jumped by 63 percent, from 391 to 637.
“The people of Haiti continue to suffer one of the worst human rights crises in decades and a major humanitarian emergency,” the report said.
Clashes between gangs and police are becoming more violent and frequent, claiming many civilians’ lives in the process. It added.
There is still an “appallingly poor” human rights situation for people living in gang-controlled areas, and conditions have worsened in areas that have been recently targeted by gangs.
The document describes the dire situation residents are facing in Cite Soleil, on the capital’s waterfront, where snipers are shooting at pedestrians from rooftops.
“The inhabitants feel besieged. They can no longer leave their homes for fear of armed violence and the terror imposed by the gangs,” the UN humanitarian coordinator for Haiti said in a separate statement on Sunday.
It added that nearly 70 people were killed during clashes between rival gangs between April 14 and 19. Among them were 18 women and at least two children.
“I reiterate the urgent need for the deployment of an international specialized armed force,” Guterres said in Monday’s report.
In October, Guterres relayed a request for assistance from Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry to the Security Council.
In spite of some countries’ willingness to participate, none has stepped forward to lead.