Diaspora

Today in missions: Rising violence and ailing economy top list of … – The Christian Index

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A year has passed since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated at his private home where an elite security team was supposed to protect him. Not only have authorities failed to identify and arrest all those who masterminded and financed the killing, but Haiti has gone into freefall as violence soars and the economy tumbles.
Many have fled Haiti in the past year, making potentially deadly voyages aboard rickety boats filled with hundreds of Haitians who have repeatedly turned up on the shores of nearby nations. They chose to face that risk rather than go hungry and fear for their lives, as do many people who have stayed behind.
“Every day is a fight. It’s a fight to stay alive. It’s a fight to eat. It’s a fight to survive,” said Hector Duval, a plumber who now drives a motorcycle taxi to make more money since Haitians are afraid to board slow-moving buses and chance being killed by warring gangs.
Killings have soared and thousands of families have been driven from their homes by gangs battling over territory ever since Moïse was shot last July 7 at his home near the capital, Port-au-Prince.
An overwhelmed government is struggling to crack down on the gangs and reduce a spike in kidnappings linked to them. 
High levels of crime and inflation are just some of the challenges faced by Southern Baptist missionaries from the International Mission Board who are living and working in Haiti to share the gospel.  In October, just three months after Moïse’s assassination, 17 missionaries from Christian Aid Ministries were kidnapped, including women and young children. All the hostages were eventually freed, though twelve were only released after 61 days in captivity.
At the time, Christian medical missionary David Vanderpool, founder and CEO of the Haiti-based humanitarian ministry LiveBeyond, said, “It’s continued to get worse, with gangs controlling at least 60 percent of the country, according to the U.N. It’s a terrible time in Haiti. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anybody coming to their aid.”
Prime Minister Ariel Henry has promised to create a new provisional council to organize general elections, but that hasn’t happened. There hasn’t been a Parliament because the government failed to organize elections in 2019, and Moïse dismissed most lawmakers in early 2020 and ruled by decree for more than a year before he was killed.
Meanwhile, hopes for trials of those arrested in the assassination have been derailed by the resignation of four judges appointed to oversee the investigation, with some saying they feared for their lives.
Henry himself has recognized the uncertainty hovering over the case. Last month, he tweeted: “I have the unpleasant feeling that those who conceived and financed this macabre plan are still running the streets and are still escaping our judicial system.”
The United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti noted that the investigation seems to have stalled and called on authorities to bring those responsible to justice as soon as possible.
“Since this crime was committed, growing insecurity, linked to the proliferation of acts of violence committed by armed gangs, has terrorized Haitian citizens and monopolized public debate in a context where the challenges facing the country are increasing day by day,” it said.
Henry is urging Haitians to focus on turning around their country.
“It is imperative that Haitians work together to reconcile segments of our society that are too divided,” he said. “This is a must if we want to restore security, deal with armed gangs and their sponsors, create a climate conducive to the holding of elections with a high turnout, in order to rebuild our democratic institutions.”
But a growing number of Haitians blame Henry for the growing insecurity.
The United Nations says that almost seven kidnappings are reported a day and that in May alone more than 200 killings and 198 abductions were reported in the country of more than 11 million people. Those kidnappings included two busloads of children and three U.N. employees and their dependents. In addition, one gang recently seized control of part of Haiti’s Court of First Instance, looting and burning case files and evidence.
Haitians have fled in huge numbers — the largest single example in late May when 842 Haitians were stranded on the Cuban coast after their captain abandoned the boat. Hundreds of others have landed in Florida, while dozens have died at sea in recent months.
Claudia Julmiste, a nursing student, said she is trying to make ends meet by reselling underwear, bras, and wigs that she buys in the neighboring Dominican Republic, although Haiti’s double-digit inflation has hit her and many others hard.
“I’m trying to make the best of it here,” she said. “I don’t want to be one of those kids getting on a boat at sea to die, but Haiti is not offering anything.”
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