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The United Nations has released a report detailing the severe escalation of gang violence in Haiti, particularly in its crucial agricultural regions, leading to significant displacement and a critical impact on food availability.
Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasized the urgent need for international security assistance in Haiti, a request made by the country’s unelected government and authorized by the UN last month. The Bas-Artibonite region, north of the capital and a key source of rice has seen violence steadily rise, with the UN documenting around 22,000 people displaced amid a spate of murders, looting, kidnappings, and extensive sexual violence. The report links the region’s most dominant gangs to the capital’s G-Pep alliance, suggesting a deliberate strategy to expand their influence.
Turk added, “We are continuing to receive reports of killings, sexual violence, displacement and other violence – including in hospitals. The much-needed multinational security support mission needs to be deployed to Haiti as soon as possible.”
Gangs armed with rifles and pistols have wreaked havoc in the area, destroying homes, attacking irrigation systems, and extorting farmers. Kidnappings, tortures for ransom, and mass abductions, including the gang rapes of women and young children, have become increasingly common. The violence has not only limited humanitarian access but also left the handling of sexual violence cases to under-resourced rural associations, with victims often too fearful to seek help.
This comes as the UN’s food agency reports that nearly half of Haiti’s population is facing hunger, including over 45% of those in Bas-Artibonite. Turk described the situation as “cataclysmic,” advocating for the deployment of the international security mission, increased government action, broader sanctions, and stricter controls on arms, which are believed to be primarily trafficked from the United States.