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Haiti: Gang violence spreads as Caribbean leaders race to stem situation

2024   -  
Copyright © africanews
Andrew Kasuku/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


Signs of a battle between gangs near the National Palace were everywhere in downtown Port-au-Prince Haiti's capital while families fled the city in terror.

On Saturday, a woman was lying in the street with a gunshot wound to her leg.

She was hit by a stray bullet while police exchanged gunfire with gang members to clear the neighbourhood.

Police armed with assault rifles nervously patrolled the area in armoured vehicles on streets covered with bullet shells from the previous night’s battle on Champ de Mars where the National Palace and many government buildings are located.

In another nearby neighbourhood, Carrefour Feuillie, the few remaining families hurried to leave their homes after last night’s battle.

They are taking their children and what they can, carrying plastic bags to join another 15,000 people displaced since violence intensified on the 29th of February.

They will head to shelters in schools or any other safe place to spend the day and likely many more days and nights as there doesn’t seem to be an end to the violence soon.

Meanwhile, Caribbean leaders have called for an emergency meeting in Jamaica with the United States, Canada, and France on Monday to seek a way out of spiralling gang violence in Haiti.

Members of the CARICOM regional trade bloc have been trying for months to get political actors in Haiti to agree to form an umbrella transitional unity government.

Representatives from Brazil and the U.N. have also been invited to Monday’s emergency meeting.

In a statement by the Guyanese president Irfaan Ali, acting as chairman of the Caribbean Community, said that “the situation on the ground remains dire and is of serious concern to us”.

It is unclear whether Haiti's PM Ariel Henry will be in Jamaica.

Henry had travelled to Kenya to push for the U.N.-backed deployment of a police force from the East African country to fight gangs in Haiti.

Henry, who is facing calls to resign or form a transitional council, remains unable to return home.

He arrived in Puerto Rico on Tuesday after failing to land in the Dominican Republic, which borders Haiti.

Widespread gang violence has plagued Haiti for nearly three years, particularly after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021 deepened political instability in the Caribbean nation.

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