Groups point to uptick in violence in Haiti

A leading Haitian human rights group warned of a spike in killings and kidnappings as the UN Security Council held a meeting on Friday to discuss the escalating violence plaguing the Caribbean nation.

In a report issued Thursday, the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights also condemned what it said was a lack of action on the part of the government.

He noted that from May 1 to July 12, at least 75 people were killed and another 40 kidnapped. Among those killed are a lawyer, a child, two undertakers and at least six police officers. Among those kidnapped is a journalist from Radio Visión 2000 who was later released. Her husband, the former president of the Provisional Electoral Council, was kidnapped in mid-June and is still being held by gang members.

Gangs have also been blamed for breaking into a hospital in the Canaan community north of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, stealing medical supplies and kidnapping at least six security guards. In addition, last month a group of armed criminals burned down the building that housed the Jamaican consulate in Haiti.

Doctors without borders

Violence recently forced Doctors Without Borders to suspend treatment at one of its Port-au-Prince hospitals, after the group reported that some 20 armed men entered an operating room and kidnapped a patient.

A few months ago, the human rights group said kidnappings and killings had dropped amid a violent uprising against suspected gang members, but noted that gangs have resumed their attacks.

The group urged the authorities to disband all armed gangs and restore order and security.

The Haitian National Police is underfunded and under-resourced and has been overwhelmed by gangs, which have grown more powerful since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. They are currently estimated to control up to 80% of Prince Port. The Police Department has barely 9,000 active agents for a country of more than 11 million inhabitants.

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