The United Nations has issued a warning that Haiti’s violent conflicts between gangs have expanded beyond the city to important agricultural regions. This has resulted in the displacement of thousands of individuals and has severely affected the availability of essential food items.
The Bas-Artibonite region, located north of the capital, has seen a gradual increase in violence. A recent report released on Tuesday reveals that around 22,000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to killings, theft, abductions, and rampant sexual violence.
According to the report, the most dominant gangs in the region have formed an alliance with members of the influential G-Pep group in the capital. This suggests that G-Pep may be aiming to expand its power.
Volker Turk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has stated that the long-awaited international security aid, which was requested by Haiti’s unelected government a year ago and authorized by the UN last month, should be deployed at the earliest opportunity.
According to the report, gangs carrying semi-automatic rifles and pistols have engaged in activities such as burning homes, targeting irrigation systems, stealing crops and livestock, and extorting farmers for access to their fields.
According to a report, kidnappings and torture in exchange for money are common occurrences. Although these incidents were originally centered around transportation areas, the UN has noticed a shift towards targeting residential areas and taking people in large groups. Women and even young children have also been victims of gang rape.
The use of force has greatly restricted the ability to provide humanitarian aid to the region, resulting in limited resources for those affected by sexual violence in rural areas. The report noted that victims often do not report their experiences due to concerns about retaliation and lack of confidence in law enforcement.
The insecurity and limited financial resources have led aid organizations to suspend activities and reduce budgets, as the United Nations’ food agency reports that almost half of the country’s population is facing food shortages, with over 45% of people in Bas-Artibonite affected.
Turk stated that the current situation was “cataclysmic” and emphasized the need for an international force, increased government involvement, broader sanctions, and stricter regulations on weapons believed to primarily come from the United States.
He stated that we are still receiving reports of killings, sexual violence, displacement, and other forms of violence, even within hospitals.
It is urgent that we send a multinational security support mission to Haiti promptly.