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  • Human Rights Research Center

Urgent Calls to Address Haiti's Crisis Amid Gang Violence and Political Instability

Police on patrol in Port-au-Prince on Friday. [Image Credit: Ralph Tedy Erol | Reuters]

Cited article by CBS News and update by the Guardian

HRRC emphasizes the critical importance of prioritizing human rights considerations and engaging effectively with Haitian civil society to support initiatives aimed at restoring security and stability, thereby preventing a further humanitarian catastrophe.

News Brief

Haiti is reeling from a surge of violence perpetrated by criminal gangs wielding more power than the state's security forces. Attacks on prisons and the capital city's airport have paralyzed the nation, leading to widespread displacement and economic disruption. With over 1,190 deaths recorded since the start of 2024, the United Nations has declared the situation "beyond untenable" and called for urgent deployment of a multinational security force to protect civilians. Political turmoil, exacerbated by government corruption and a history of instability, has further fueled the crisis, as Prime Minister Ariel Henry faces pressure to resign amidst escalating violence and demands for his removal from powerful gang leaders.

The roots of Haiti's current turmoil trace back to decades of government corruption and natural disasters, including powerful earthquakes in 2010 and 2021, exacerbating the nation's economic woes and infrastructure challenges. Amidst the chaos, gang leader Jimmy "Barbecue" Cherizier has emerged as a key figure, leading a federation of gangs that control significant portions of the capital. With an estimated 200 gangs operating in Haiti, armed with sophisticated weaponry and fueled by ransom payments, the state's weakened institutions struggle to contain their growing influence, posing a grave threat to stability and security in the region.

As of Sunday, foreign governments have taken decisive action in response to the escalating crisis in Haiti. The US has initiated a covert operation to airlift embassy staff out of the country amid reports of armed gangs attempting to seize control of Port-au-Prince's political quarter. Simultaneously, the German foreign ministry announced the evacuation of its ambassador and other EU representatives to the Dominican Republic.


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