Gang Violence Displaces 165,000 in Haiti, Hinders Aid Efforts
Geneva/Port-au-Prince – More than 165,000 people are internally displaced in Haiti due to gang violence, hindering aid efforts by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The country is facing additional pressure due to severe floods caused by torrential rains, affecting over 46,000 people and displacing over 13,000 others, and a 4.9 Richter earthquake on 6 June, further compounding the humanitarian situation.
Gang attacks, extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and gender-based violence have become part of the daily lives of Haitians, forcing locals to flee their homes. Besides gangs, the activities of vigilante groups result in hundreds of lynchings. More than 1,630 people were killed, wounded or kidnapped in Haiti in the first three months of 2023, a 30 per cent increase compared to the previous quarter, according to the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti.
“We are deeply alarmed by the escalating protection crisis in Haiti,” said Philippe Branchat, IOM Chief of Mission in Haiti. “The safety and well-being of the displaced populations and our dedicated staff is our top priority. We remain beside the people of Haiti and are committed to stay and deliver whenever and wherever possible.”
It is estimated that nearly half of Haiti’s population – around 5.2 million people – needs humanitarian assistance. IOM is calling for increased international support, urging donors and stakeholders to contribute to tackling the country’s most immediate needs, as well as for long-term solutions. This is particularly pressing, as Haiti’s Humanitarian Response Plan is currently funded only to 20 per cent.
The start of the cyclonic season on 1 June adds additional strains to the response to the crisis. In the first week of June, heavy precipitations have affected around 46,000 people within the country and similar or more severe meteorological events are expected in the months to come. This week’s earthquake in the south of the country comes less than two years after another of 7.2 magnitude, which killed 2,200 people. Some of those who lost their homes then are still displaced in camps.
Despite the challenges, IOM and its partners continue to deliver humanitarian response including provision of shelter, the distribution of personal hygiene items, solar lamps, kitchen sets and other essential articles, and protection measures for people who, overnight, have had to go live in spontaneous sites due to violence.
Access to clean and safe water is always a concern, as cholera outbreaks have been recurrent at displacement sites. IOM leads the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster in Haiti, which advocates for a multisectoral response in displacement areas, including sites and people displaced in host families.
Notwithstanding the precarious situation in the country, IOM continues to observe returns of Haitian nationals. IOM has identified 61,600 Haitian returnees arriving in the country by land, sea and air so far in 2023. Most of them (93%) come from the Dominican Republic, but also from the United States (2%), Bahamas (2%), Turks and Caicos (2%) and Cuba (1%).
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