Posted on July 1, 2021

Haiti Gang Violence Forces Doctors Without Borders to Close ER, Hold Off COVID-19 Treatment

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, June 29, 2021

The French medical charity Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontière is temporarily closing one of its health facilities in Haiti after doctors and patients were the target of an armed gang attack over the weekend.

Gang members fired several bursts in the direction of the emergency center in the Martissant neighborhood on the southern outskirts of metropolitan Port-au-Prince on Saturday {snip}

“They clearly targeted the facility from outside,” said MSF Head of Mission Alessandra Giudiceandrea.

No one died or was injured. But the humanitarian medical organization, which is used to working in conflict zones around the globe and has been operating in Haiti for 30 years, said it believes “that it can no longer continue treating the population without endangering its staff.”

After Saturday’s attack, Giudiceandrea evacuated staff and patients from the emergency center. She took the decision to immediately suspend activities for a week and said she’s hoping that they find the facility intact when they reopen. The Martissant Emergency Center, which opened in 2006, is the oldest MSF project in the country and the only facility in the area providing free medical care to Haitians.


In May, the charity lost a local employee when he was shot on his way home from work at its trauma hospital in the Tabarre suburb even though he did not resist his attackers. The father of three was rushed back to the hospital, where he died on arrival. In early June, armed individuals robbed two MSF ambulance drivers and other vehicles coming from Martissant.


Haiti has been seeing an unprecedented surge in deadly gang violence in recent weeks, with warring factions fighting over territory, control and money. An estimated 13,600 people have fled their homes in Port-au-Prince since June 1 to escape clashes between rival gangs {snip}

The surge is part of the country’s deepening political and economic crisis, MSF said, that is affecting all aspects of Haitian life. The health system, already stressed by growing medical needs and a lack of funding, is now further strained by insecurity and an increase in surging COVID-19 infections. The country remains the only nation in Latin America and the Caribbean where the government has yet to administer a COVID-19 vaccine.