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The UN describes the situation in Haiti as ‘cataclysmic’

GENEVA: The situation in Haiti is described as “cataclysmic” by the UN, with over 1,500 people killed by gang violence so far this year and an influx of more weapons into the country. A recent report from the United Nations rights office highlights the erosion of the rule of law due to corruption, impunity, and poor governance, which has brought state institutions close to collapse, leaving Haiti in a dire situation.

The surge in clashes since late February, when gangs demanded Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s resignation, has worsened the crisis. Henry, in office since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, pledged to step down after establishing a transitional council, but internal disagreements among party leaders have delayed progress.

The violence has resulted in a staggering number of casualties, with 4,451 deaths and 1,668 injuries attributed to gang violence last year, and 1,554 killed and 826 injured in just the first three months of 2024. Sexual violence, recruitment and abuse of children by gangs, and extrajudicial killings by self-defense brigades exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.

Despite an arms embargo, weapons and ammunition continue to flow into Haiti, requiring tighter national and international controls to curb trafficking. The report urges more effective implementation of the arms embargo and emphasizes the urgent need for a Multinational Security Support mission to assist Haitian authorities in addressing violence and protecting civilians.

Kenya’s planned deployment of a UN-approved mission to support Haitian security forces is on hold pending the formation of a transitional council. Once deployed, it is crucial that the mission integrates human rights considerations into its operations and establishes mechanisms to mitigate harm. The report underscores that addressing systemic corruption and dysfunction in the justice system is essential to restoring the rule of law and achieving lasting solutions in Haiti’s crisis.

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