The United Nations has issued a warning that the violent conflicts between gangs in Haiti have extended beyond the capital city and into important agricultural areas. This has resulted in the displacement of tens of thousands of individuals and has severely affected their ability to obtain basic food items.
A recent report revealed that violence in the northern Bas-Artibonite region, which is a significant source of staple foods like rice, has been on the rise. According to the report, released on Tuesday, approximately 22,000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to the prevalence of murder, looting, kidnappings, and pervasive sexual violence.
According to the report, the most dominant gangs in the region have aligned themselves with the influential G-Pep alliance in the capital. This suggests that G-Pep is actively seeking to expand its power and influence.
Volker Turk, the UN high commissioner for human rights, stated that the international security support, which was requested by Haiti’s unelected government a year ago and approved by the UN last month, should be deployed promptly.
According to the report, gangs have used semi-automatic weapons to set fire to homes, sabotage irrigation systems, steal crops and animals, and extort “taxes” from farmers in order to use their fields.
According to the UN, there are frequent incidents of kidnappings and torture for ransom. While these criminal activities were initially centered around transportation routes, they are now expanding to include residential areas. People are being abducted in large numbers, and women and even young children are being subjected to gang rapes.
The use of violence has greatly restricted the ability for humanitarian aid to reach the region, resulting in underfunded rural organizations providing support for victims of sexual violence. According to the report, victims are hesitant to come forward due to concerns of retaliation and a lack of trust in law enforcement.
Due to the lack of funds and increasing instability, humanitarian organizations have suspended their activities and reduced their budgets. According to the United Nation’s food agency, almost half of the population in Bas-Artibonite is experiencing hunger.
Turk expressed that the situation was “disastrous” and restated the need for an international force, increased government intervention, broader sanctions, and stricter regulations on firearms that are suspected to be primarily smuggled from the United States.
The speaker mentioned that they are still receiving reports of murders, sexual assault, forced relocation, and other forms of violence, even in hospitals.
“A crucial international security assistance mission must be promptly dispatched to Haiti.”