Agence France-Presse, May 6, 2022
ackson held out for more than a week as gunfire ripped through his poor neighborhood in the Haitian capital, hoping help would come to end the bloody turf war between rival gangs.
“For eight days, the bursts of bullets flew non-stop but we thought that the police were going to intervene,” he said.
But the police never showed. So like thousands of others, 29-year-old Jackson — taking nothing but the clothes he was wearing — fled his home.
The United Nations said Friday that clashes between rival gangs in the downtrodden slums of northern Port-au-Prince have claimed the lives of at least 75 people, including women and children, since all-out war started on April 24.
The world body said it was “deeply concerned by the rapid deterioration of the security situation” in the city.
It added that at least 9,000 residents of the conflict-hit northern suburbs have been forced to flee their homes and take refuge with relatives or in temporary shelters such as churches and schools.
Jackson held out until last Sunday. He was just returning from church when the fighting came right to his door.
For decades, armed gangs have run amok in the poorest neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, but they have drastically increased their hold across the Haitian capital and the country at-large in recent years, sending murders and kidnappings skyrocketing.
The UN has denounced the “extreme violence” of the gangs, saying local sources recorded “acts of sexual violence, including the gang rape of children as young as 10 years, and the terrorization and intimidation of the local populations living in areas controlled by rival gangs.”
The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, has warned of the gangs’ impact on children’s education.
“In Haiti, 500,000 children have lost access to education due to gang-related violence,” it said on Friday. “Nearly 1,700 schools are currently closed in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince.”