Diaspora

Haiti: Gang-related insecurity likely to affect much of the country through at least early November /update 7 – Crisis24

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Insecurity is likely to persist across Haiti through at least early November, especially in the Metropolitan Area of Port-au-Prince. The worsening fuel shortages have been severely impacting many essential services in the country. Several essential businesses and services, including supermarkets and hospitals, face critical operational challenges. The fuel shortages will likely continue to make access to food, water, and electricity difficult nationwide, as many businesses struggle to get access to enough diesel to power electricity generators and businesses struggle to get or provide deliveries. The threat in the country also remains elevated due to frequent incidents of violence involving rival gangs, as well as frequent kidnappings.
Violent Crime and Kidnappings
The security situation is likely to continue to deteriorate in the Metropolitan Area of Port-au-Prince, where gangs continue to act as de facto authorities in many neighborhoods, especially two of the country’s main federations of gangs, the G-PEP and the G9 and Family. Gangs retain control over areas surrounding some of the country’s key infrastructure, such as Varreux Terminal, one of the country’s main ports that stores around 70 percent of Haiti’s fuel supplies. As authorities lack the capability to fight criminal groups, the country is highly vulnerable to shortages of essential supplies. Criminal groups often demand payments for the transportation of basic supplies or completely block overland travel in areas under their effective control. With criminal groups still controlling most of Route Nationale 2, southern parts of the country remain particularly vulnerable to shortages. As a result, several protests denouncing the rising levels of insecurity and lack of access to fuel have materialized in the capital.
The wave of nationwide unrest that was triggered by acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s Sept. 11 announcement regarding the removal of fuel subsidies, and further announcements Sept. 14 that fuel prices would almost double, have also been posing major challenges for businesses operating in Haiti. Roadblocks have been severely impacting overland travel in most Haitian cities, especially in Port-au-Prince’s areas of Delmas, Tabarre, Petionville, and Canape-Vert. Reports indicate that widespread unrest and looting have been affecting several cities, including Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haitian, and Gonaives. The strikes, demonstrations, and violence throughout September have forced many foreign businesses and even diplomatic services to evacuate employees, close temporarily, or significantly limit their operations in-country. The availability of public and private transportation options in Haiti is also becoming increasingly limited, and most foreign diplomatic services do not facilitate transportation services. Even if the unrest eases throughout October, it will also likely take weeks to fully clear roadblocks, repair trenches dug by protesters, and restock businesses.
The US embassy in Haiti published an alert Sept. 27 warning citizens that the insecurity and growing fuel shortages have been making it increasingly difficult to carry out overland travel to the embassy or airports in Haiti. The alert has urged US citizens in the country to “carefully consider the risks of traveling to (or remaining in) Haiti in light of the deteriorating security situation and infrastructure challenges.” The warning also mentioned that the ongoing issues could limit access to essential services in an emergency, such as access to banking services, urgent medical care, communication, and internet services.
Exchanges of gunfire and severe transport and business disruptions continue to occur throughout Haiti with little-to-no warning, especially in Port-au-Prince and other large cities. Gang activity and violent attacks target both security forces and civilians. Areas in and around the capital that are the most severely affected by violent crime include Carrefour, Drouillard, Champs-de-Mars, Croix-des-Bouquets, Laboule 12, Cite Soleil, Martissant, Bel Air, Toussaint Brave, Bas-Delmas, Santo, Torcelle, and Fontamara. Shooting incidents along the Airport Road are common and can affect travelers going to and from the Toussaint Louverture International Airport (PAP).
Kidnapping and hijacking incidents are also likely to continue to increase nationwide, especially in and around Port-au-Prince. Gangs also continue to dominate Route Nationale 2 in the south of the country and several others surrounding the capital. The risk of kidnappings for foreign nationals is particularly high in the Croix-des-Bouquets area, where the 400 Mawozo gang operates. As gangs continue to expand their influence along key highways in the country, the threat of kidnapping will likely continue to increase through at least late 2022.
Gender-based violence, including rape, remains severely underreported nationwide. However, several international organizations, including the UN, warn that these crimes pose a significant threat, especially in poor areas dominated by gangs.
Exercise heightened personal vigilance in Haiti. Keep away from areas most severely affected by criminal activity and refrain from nonessential travel after dark. Avoid areas where police or other security forces appear to be deploying. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Update and review contingency plans. Plan for possible transport disruptions; reconfirm the status of public transport before departure. Avoid all protests due to probable violence; shelter in place if unrest occurs nearby. Monitor local media for information regarding protest activity and road closures. Do not attempt to pass through roadblocks; wait for authorities to remove them.
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