The capital city of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, is currently witnessing an unprecedented surge in gang violence, according to New York-based photojournalist Giles Clarke. Clarke, who has been visiting Haiti since 2011, states that the gangs now control approximately 75% of the city. Neighborhoods are barricaded with burnt-out vehicles as residents attempt to protect themselves from gang-led abductions and attacks.
This widespread violence has led to a situation where vital supply lines to the rest of the country are being choked off, exacerbating an already fraught humanitarian crisis. Gang members have instilled fear in the metropolitan population, resulting in the displacement of an estimated 200,000 individuals. This displacement has prompted the creation of overcrowded settlements in schools, churches, theaters, and even boxing gyms throughout the city.
Clarke recently documented these squalid displacement settlements where families live in tents and sleep on classroom floors. NGOs are racing against the clock to provide basic necessities such as clean water, baby formula, and daily meals, whenever security allows access. Many of those affected by the violence lament their inability to access clean water or medicine.
In response to the escalating crisis, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, in power since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021, has been urgently calling for military assistance to restore security. The United Nations Security Council has granted permission for the deployment of an armed multinational force, standing as a potential catalyst for change in Port-au-Prince.
The situation in Port-au-Prince, characterized by rampant gang violence and displacement, highlights the critical need for immediate international aid. Addressing the root causes of this violence, providing security, and assisting in rebuilding communities will be crucial in order to restore stability to the city and alleviate the suffering of its people.
– Gang violence: Criminal activities and acts of violence committed by organized groups.
– Displacement: The forced movement of individuals from their homes or communities due to conflict or disaster.
– NGOs: Non-governmental organizations that provide humanitarian assistance and support in areas affected by crises.
– Giles Clarke, New York-based photojournalist with extensive experience in Haiti.
– Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
– United Nations Security Council.