Gang war in Haiti: “Massacre of unprecedented cruelty”

Status: 05/11/2022 7:29 p.m.

148 people were killed in gang battles in Haiti between late April and early May. Human rights activists speak of a “massacre of unprecedented cruelty”. Your report lists the most serious crimes.

By Anne Demmer, ARD Studio Mexico

About a year after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, criminal gangs continue to dominate the lives of Haitians. For example, people put rings around their necks and then burn them alive. This is reported by the Haitian National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) in its latest report.

Anne Demer

The human rights organization speaks of a “massacre of unprecedented cruelty”. Girls and women were raped before being murdered. At least 148 people were killed between late April and early May, including seven members of the Chen Mechan gang, who were killed on their own.

The gangs are fighting for their supremacy in the neighborhoods and therefore also for their income of protection money, which they demand from the local population, traders, transport companies, bus and taxi drivers, according to the report. .

Thousands of people flee

According to the United Nations International Organization for Migration, 9,000 people have fled the current fighting between rival gangs 400 Mawozo and Chen Mechan from their neighborhoods of Croix-des-Bouquets and Tabarre y Cité Soleil in the metropolitan area of ​​​​the capital Port – to the prince escaped.

Some of the families have now returned home, reports the Human Rights Network. However, there is no secure base for this, as rival gangs are still armed and fighting could resume at any time. There are links between gangs, rival gangs, police and state authorities.

Gangs better equipped than the police

Martial images of the massacre were posted by the gangs on social media, the report documents. And: So the biggest supplier of weapons to gangs is still the Haitian state.

About 200 gangs are active in Haiti. All roads leading out of town are under the control of criminal gangs, including access to important infrastructure and access to fuel, says Welthungerhilfe’s Port-au-Prince manager, Annalisa Lombardo. “The government is silent, it is fragmented,” she says. “It lacks a credible political figure who could pull the country out of shambles.”

The gangs are better equipped than the police; the security forces, on the other hand, are underpaid, says Lombardo – and that with extreme inflation. Sometimes they only received their salary every four months.

Haiti plagued by corruption

Corruption is a serious problem, says the head of Welthungerhilfe. Kidnappings are the order of the day. This also has implications for the healthcare system. According to local media, two hospitals in the capital Port-au-Prince were temporarily closed a few days ago – after a pediatrician was kidnapped.

A bus carrying Haitian, Turkish and Dominican nationals was also hijacked earlier in the week. A total of 17 people are being held by the kidnappers.

Poorest country in the Western Hemisphere

Haiti is considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. About 40% of the population depends on humanitarian aid. And again and again, the country suffers from the consequences of natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.

President Moise was also assassinated in July last year. Although more than 20 suspects, mostly Colombian mercenaries, have been arrested, the background to the murder has yet to be clarified.

Haiti: continued gang fighting with more than 148 dead

Anne Demmer, ARD Mexico, May 11, 2022 4:52 p.m.

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