Study: Violent Crime Has Spiked in Haiti’s Cities

Trenton Daniel, Google News, March 4, 2012

Haiti has seen a dramatic increase in violent crime in the shanties of its major cities over the past six months, helping undermine faith in the country’s police force, according to a study released Sunday.

The preliminary findings in the report titled “Haiti’s Urban Crime Wave?” speak to rising concerns among Haitians that their country is entering a period of political turmoil that could thwart efforts to help rebuild in the aftermath of the powerful January 2010 earthquake.

{snip}

While the homicide rate in Port-au-Prince is lower than that of some other Caribbean cities, Haiti’s capital saw 60.9 murders per 100,000 residents over the year leading up to February 2012, the highest recorded murder rate since 2006, according to the study. {snip}

“This murder rate is not just high—it’s enormous,” [one study author, Athena] Kolbe said.

In comparison, New York City’s homicide rate was less than 7 per 100,000 in 2011, while Oakland, California, had 23 homicides per 100,000 residents.

{snip}

Haiti is at a fragile moment in its history with quake reconstruction effort advancing slowly and hundreds of thousands of people still living in rough-and-tumble camps. Also, Haiti’s prime minister abruptly resigned last month because of infighting with President Michel Martelly and it’s unclear when a successor will be approved by Parliament. {snip}

According to the authors of the study, there is no single factor to explain the rise in violent crime but they point to a frustration that stems in part from the many international humanitarian groups that came to Haiti after the earthquake.

{snip}

“You have people coming in from aid agencies, giving money to some groups within the community and not others,” Kolbe said in an interview at her home in the Port-au-Prince area. “This disrupted the community, and then there’s been this abrupt pull out now of the funds.”

{snip}

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