Haiti: the month of January was “the most violent in more than two years”

The month of January 2024 was “the most violent in more than two years” in Haiti, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva (Switzerland) said on Friday.

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At least 806 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in January 2024 and some 300 gang members were also killed or injured, for a total of 1,108 people, three times the number recorded in January 2023, the Office said in a statement.

“The already disastrous human rights situation has further deteriorated, in a context of incessant and increasing gang violence, with disastrous consequences for Haitians,” denounced Volker Türk, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a press release.

“Every day that passes, new victims are recorded. Today more than ever, the lives of Haitians depend on the deployment, without further delay, of the Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti (MSS), to support the national police and ensure the security of the Haitian population, in conditions consistent with human rights norms and standards,” he declared.

Mr. Türk also insisted on the impact that this new wave of violence has on the Haitian economy and the spread of food insecurity.

High inflation due to extortion and roadblocks has deprived millions of Haitians of basic goods, he said in a statement.

More than 313,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

“Many have sought refuge in overcrowded and unsanitary sites, which affects their ability to access health and education services,” said the UN press release.

“Even if improving the security situation is a precondition for breaking the cycle of crises in Haiti, long-term stability will only be achieved by addressing the root causes of poverty, social and economic discrimination. , but also corruption,” insisted Mr. Türk.

In addition to endemic gang violence, in recent days there have been violent clashes between the police and demonstrators demanding the departure of the head of government, Ariel Henry.

According to an agreement concluded in December 2022 after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, the current Prime Minister was to organize elections so as to leave power on February 7, 2024 to new elected officials.

No elections have taken place since 2016 in this small, poor Caribbean country and the presidency remains vacant.

Between January 20 and February 7, at least 16 people were killed and 29 others injured, mainly in clashes between demonstrators and police, the UN said.

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