UN Calls for Multinational Security Support as Killings, Kidnappings Spike in Haiti

More than 8,400 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in Haiti last year, according to a UN report.
UN Calls for Multinational Security Support as Killings, Kidnappings Spike in Haiti
People walk past a street market in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on June 28, 2023. (Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

The United Nations has called on the international community to accelerate the deployment of a multinational security support mission to Haiti amid a surge in killings and kidnappings in the country.

More than 8,400 people were killed, injured, or kidnapped in Haiti last year, a 122 percent rise from 2022, the United Nations Integrated Office (also known as BINUH) said in a report released on Feb. 2.

According to the report, about 80 percent of these incidents were reported in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, where criminal groups have been marking their territorial expansion through large-scale attacks.

“Persistent gang violence in the capital and Artibonite department, and the failure of state authorities to protect the population, continued to fuel mass lynchings and murders perpetrated by ‘vigilante groups.’

“Between October and December, these groups shot, stoned, or killed with machetes at least 76 people accused of committing common crimes or supporting gangs,” the report reads.

BINUH also stated that 693 people were kidnapped from October to December 2023, an 18 percent increase compared to the previous quarter.

“No social category has been spared: from street vendors and farmers, usually caught up in mass kidnappings while traveling in public transport vehicles, to high-level professionals, including doctors and civil servants,” it added.

At least 262 gang members were killed in clashes between rival gangs in the last quarter.

However, BINUH stated that “the ease of recruitment among the poor populations living under their control enabled them to rapidly replenish their ranks.”

“The recruitment of children by gangs remains a major concern,” it stated.

BINUH stated that most children join gangs due to a lack of socio-economic opportunities, and after a short period in their ranks, many express the desire to leave the gangs but are prevented from doing so “for fear of reprisals.”

Haiti has been grappling with a severe political, humanitarian, and security crisis for years. The situation in Haiti was exacerbated by the assassination of the country’s president in 2021.

In October 2023, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of a multinational security support mission to Haiti, to be led by Kenya. But a court in Kenya blocked the deployment of police officers to Haiti, citing the National Security Council’s lack of legal authority to dispatch police beyond Kenya.

US Urges Haitian Stakeholders to Reach Consensus

The United States reaffirmed on Jan. 27 its support for efforts to deploy multinational security support to Haiti and called for the restoration of democratic order through an inclusive political process.
“It is urgent that the international community respond to the unprecedented levels of gang violence and destabilizing forces preying upon the Haitian people,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

“We continue to urge Haitian stakeholders to reach a consensus on power-sharing and inclusive governance.  The only legitimate path to long-term peace and stability is through free and fair elections,” it added.

Tirana Hassan, executive director at Human Rights Watch, said the situation in Haiti has deteriorated due to the delay in deploying the support mission and other components of a rights-based response.

“Killings, kidnappings, sexual violence, and other abuses continue at a staggering rate, with criminal group activities and fighting intensifying and spreading,” Ms. Hassan told a council meeting on Jan. 25.

“People we’ve interviewed in Haiti told us repeatedly about how they were struggling to feed their families, their children had constant stomach problems because they didn’t have access to clean water, and they couldn’t access health care or send their children to school.”

More than 300,000 people in Haiti have been internally displaced, with many forced to flee after their homes were burned down. They were moved to “open-air shelters with little or no humanitarian assistance,” she added.