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Armed Gangs Move Into Rural Areas Of Haiti Amid Calls For Security Support

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Gang violence in Haiti is on the rise with new alliances being forged and expansion into rural areas previously considered secure, warns a new UN report.

The report, published on Tuesday by the UN human rights office (OHCHR) and the UN political mission in Haiti (BINUH), calls for the urgent deployment of the multinational security support mission authorized by the UN Security Council in October.

But alongside that, greater efforts will must be made to strengthen the institutions of the rule of law in Haiti, specifically the police, the judiciary and the penitentiary system, the report notes.

Killing fields

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The report focuses on the Bas-Artibonite district, situated in central Haiti, about 100 kilometers from the capital Port-au-Prince, which has seen a major increase in gang violence over the past two years.

Between January 2022 and October 2023, at the very least 1,694 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in Bas-Artibonite.

Kidnappings for ransom by criminal groups have turn into a relentless fear for public transport users within the district, the report says.

The story of Darleine, a 22-year-old woman, is just one in all many: she was dragged off a bus in March this 12 months by gang members, who held her captive for greater than two weeks and repeatedly beat and raped her.

A number of weeks after her release, she committed suicide.

The report documents criminal groups that ransack “rival” villages, executing the local population and resorting to sexual violence against women and even very young children.

The groups are also looting farmers’ properties, crops and livestock and destroying irrigation systems, contributing to the displacement of greater than 22,000 people from their villages.

The has significantly reduced the quantity of farmland, thus increasing food insecurity.

As of September, greater than 45 per cent of the population of Bas-Artibonite was acutely food insecure. Gang violence has also left many farming families unable to repay debts or access basic services.

A cataclysmic situation

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, has warned that across Haiti, at the very least 3,960 people have been killed, 1,432 injured and a pair of,951 kidnapped in gang-related violence this 12 months alone.

“The situation in Haiti is cataclysmic. We proceed to receive reports of killings, sexual violence, displacement and other violence – including in hospitals,” he said.

“Within the face of the horrific violence against the population that’s spreading – inside and outdoors Port-au-Prince – and the lack of the police to stop them, the much-needed multinational security support mission have to be deployed to Haiti as soon as possible.”

The High Commissioner stressed that the support mission must include internal control mechanisms and other safeguards to make sure its compliance with international human rights norms and standards.

In light of the escalating violence and following October’s report of the UN Group of Experts on Haiti, this report also calls on the Security Council to update the list of people and entities subject to UN sanctions.

“The main target must proceed to be on the implementation of the arms embargo and sanctions targeting those chargeable for this untenable situation,” said the High Commissioner, who also called on the Haitian authorities “to meet their international human rights obligations but additionally to place in place robust measures to strengthen the country’s institutions and improve governance, including by fighting corruption and impunity.”

SOURCE: UN News

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