Haiti gang violence claims 1,500 lives so far this year: UN

Ongoing gang violence in Haiti has killed more than 1,500 people this year and lynched dozens by so-called self-defence brigades, the UN Human Rights Office said on Thursday. The office’s findings come after Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced his resignation on March 11. In the days after, Haiti experienced a surge of violence, including bombings at the national airport and police stations, carried out by heavily-armed adversaries.

The report, published on Thursday, indicates that in 2023, the number of victims of gang-related violence amounted to 4451 killed and 1668 injured. In the first three months of 2024—as of March 22—1554 deaths and 826 injuries have been recorded.

The report also spoke about the almost unpunished sexual violence against women, which has manifested in the form of exploitative sexual relations with gang members and the rape of hostages to force families to pay ransom. The report also noted that children have been forced to join gangs and, in some cases, are killed for attempting to escape. In addition, the report emphasized that, because gangs continue to receive weapons and ammunition illegally, many of these groups usually have more powerful firepower than the Haitian National Police does.

“All these practices are outrageous and must stop at once,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk.

The report recommended strengthening the regulation of arms trafficking and establishing an international security force in Haiti. It also emphasized the need for a political settlement to support a democratic transition and free elections. Corruption and impunity must also be addressed and the rule of law restored in the country. To achieve these goals, the High Commissioner called upon all parties to engage in constructive discussions.