Aid group shutters hospital in Haiti amid spike in violence

AP , Wednesday 8 Mar 2023

Doctors Without Borders announced Wednesday that it was forced to temporarily close its hospital in Cite Soleil given a sharp rise in gang violence that has left dozens dead in recent weeks.

A parent, carrying his child after picking him up from school, runs past police as they carry out an operation against gangs in the Bel-Air area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, March 3, 2023. AP


The slum — one of the largest in the capital of Port-au-Prince — has been the site of repeated clashes between gangs.

“We are looking at a war scene just meters from our hospital,” said Vincent Harris, the aid group’s adviser.

Officials noted that large numbers of stray bullets have hit the hospital compound, and that it’s nearly impossible for the sick and injured to reach the institution for care.

The organization added that in recent days, staff members at another nearby hospital have admitted up to 10 times the usual number of people with gunshot wounds.

Human rights activists have said that from Feb. 24 to March 4, more than 60 people have been killed in one area of the capital alone, with dozens of others kidnapped.

Gangs continue to fight over more territory and are wielding more power since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Prime Minister Ariel Henry has repeatedly asked the international community for the deployment of foreign troops, a request that has gone unanswered since October.

Instead, various countries have imposed sanctions and have sent military equipment to help Haiti's National Police, which is severely under-resourced and understaffed. More than a dozen police officers have been killed so far this year.

On Monday, Maarten Boute, the chairman of Digicel in Haiti, tweeted that the situation has grown “increasingly desperate” in Port-au-Prince.

“Armed gangs now roam freely across the entire capital city,” he wrote. “Nobody is safe. Desperation is kicking in. We need help!”

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