In Haiti, the prolonged state of emergency in the face of gang violence, while the health system is “close to collapse”, warns the UN

On Thursday March 7, the Haitian authorities extended the state of emergency in part of the island, including its capital Port-au-Prince

In Haiti, the prolonged state of emergency in the face of gang violence, while the health system is “close to collapse”, warns the UN

On Thursday March 7, the Haitian authorities extended the state of emergency in part of the island, including its capital Port-au-Prince. While control of large areas of the capital has returned to the benefit of criminal gangs, a “decree establishing a state of security emergency across the entire extent of the West department”, which includes Port-au-Prince, “for a period of one month,” was published in the official gazette.

A first state of emergency and a curfew - difficult to implement - had already been declared on Sunday after the attack on prisons by gangs which caused the escape of thousands of inmates. A new night curfew was also decreed on Thursday, until Monday, from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m., in the West department.

Haiti's health system is "close to collapse", the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also warned. “Many health establishments are closed or have had to drastically reduce their operations due to a worrying shortage of medicines and the absence of medical staff,” he said, also referring to shortages of blood, medical equipment or beds to treat gunshot wounds.

Ten police buildings destroyed

Criminal gangs, who control the roads leading from Port-au-Prince to the rest of the territory, have attacked strategic sites in the country in recent days. According to a count by the National Union of Haitian Police Officers (Synapoha), since the start of the coordinated gang attacks, ten police buildings have been destroyed and two civilian prisons attacked and emptied of their inmates.

On Wednesday evening, a new police station was set on fire in Port-au Prince, Lionel Lazarre, the general coordinator of Synapoha, told Agence France-Presse (AFP), but the police had time to leave before 'attack. According to this union official, the assault had been planned since last weekend.

An influential gang leader, Jimmy Chérizier known as "Barbecue", assured Tuesday that if the Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, did not resign and if the international community continued to support him, the country was going "straight towards a civil war which will lead to genocide.” Ariel Henry, who should have left office at the beginning of February, was abroad and has still not managed to return to Haiti, prevented in particular by the lack of security around the international airport. Thursday morning, he was still in Puerto Rico, the border police spokesperson for this American Caribbean territory told AFP.

The crisis in Haiti “is more than unbearable for the Haitian people,” denounced Wednesday the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, while the UN Security Council spoke of a critical situation ". While administrations and schools remain closed, many residents are trying to flee the violence.

“Government officials have resigned.”

The association National Network for the Defense of Human Rights in Haiti (RNDDH) denounced the inaction of the Haitian state in the face of this violence. “Today the findings are clear: the government authorities have resigned,” she wrote in a report, dated Wednesday. “The streets of the capital and the entire West department are given over to armed bandits. And the Haitian population is simply abandoned to its fate,” adds the association, which deplores the fact that the police have “abandoned the streets.”

“In the absence of being able to come to the aid of the population, their presence plays an important role in restoring calm and is likely to prevent” certain crimes, according to the RNDDH. Among its recommendations: “Do everything possible to regain control of the national territory as a whole. »

For this, the UN Security Council gave its agreement in October for the sending of a multinational security mission led by Kenya, which wants to dispatch 1,000 police officers, an agreement signed a few days ago between the two country. But its deployment is delayed by the Kenyan justice system and a glaring lack of funding. No date has been given for the arrival of the mission.

The NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) published Thursday a survey on mortality in Haiti for more than ten years, which “reveals extreme levels of violence suffered by residents of the Cité Soleil slum in Port-au-Prince,” with “nearly 41% of deaths related to violence and a crude mortality rate of 0.63 deaths per 10,000 people per day.” “MSF had already observed similar mortality rates in 2017, in the camps of Raqqa”, a Syrian city and former stronghold of the Islamic State group, assures the NGO, which announced on Wednesday that it was strengthening its presence in Port-au-Prince to respond. to the influx of wounded.