(AFP)— Security in Haiti, where violent gangs control large swathes of the country, has collapsed even further, with the number of major crimes hitting “record highs,” the UN representative to the impoverished Caribbean nation warned Monday.
A report on Haiti from the UN Secretary General, published Monday, cited an increase in the number of “indiscriminate killings, kidnappings, rapes and attacks on several urban neighbourhoods considered relatively safe until recently.”
“The security situation on the ground continues to deteriorate as growing gang violence plunge(s) the lives of the people of Haiti into disarray and major crimes are rising sharply to new record highs,” UN envoy Maria Isabel Salvador told the Security Council.
She said she hoped the expected deployment of a multinational intervention force led by Kenya could improve matters.
“Major crimes, including intentional homicides and kidnappings, surged at unprecedented rates, mostly in the West and Artibonite departments” — home to the capital Port-au-Prince and the city of Gonaives, the new report said.
Between July 1 and September 30, the national police reported 1,239 homicides — compared with 577 during the same period in 2022.
And, between July and September, 701 people were kidnapped, 244 percent more than during the same period in 2022.
The United Nations is also concerned about killings perpetrated by vigilante groups that emerged last spring, “with 388 alleged gang members lynched” from April 24 to September 30, according to the report.
As the violence from gangs controlling more than half of Port-au-Prince continued to escalate, the Security Council gave the go-ahead in early October for the deployment of the non-UN multinational mission, led by Kenya, to help the overwhelmed Haitian police.
“Reestablishing control by the Haitian national police is a prerequisite for holding credible and inclusive elections,” said Salvador, despite the fact that no elections have been held since 2016.
The “expectations of millions of Haitians at home and abroad were raised” by the Security Council’s decision to green light the mission, she said.
“A glimmer of hope was cast towards finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel that is not an oncoming train.”