Gang violence, Haiti

Rising Gang Violence In Haiti Forces Emergency Caribbean Leadership Meeting

Something has to be done..and fast!

Caribbean leaders have called for an emergency meeting in Jamaica following a “dire” situation in Haiti. 

Members of the Caricom – a 15-member intergovernmental community – invited the United States, France, the United Nations, and Brazil to a meeting scheduled for Mar. 11 to discuss the relentless attacks that have left Haiti crippled for more than a week. Haitian gangs launched massive attacks on at least three police stations in the capital city of Port-Au-Prince on Mar. 8 and carried them out to the next day. 

In a combined statement from the Caricom, they acknowledge regional leaders are still committed to bringing opposing parties and civil society groups together for a unified government, but “stakeholders are not yet where they need to be.”

“It is vital that this engagement be at as high a level as possible to send a clear message of unity between Caricom and the international community as we work together to provide the critical support to the Haitian people at this time of crisis for them,” the statement read. 

For months, leadership has been working to get political actors to agree to form a transitional unified government. However, residents are tired of waiting, leaving many who may have been forced from their homes due to the violence to take matters into their own hands. “We are the ones who pay taxes, and we need to have shelter,” one woman said anonymously.

“They (the gangs) came with big guns. We have no guns and cannot defend ourselves,” another unidentified resident said. “All of us, the children, are suffering.”  

The violence was so intense that members of the European Union forced their staff to evacuate, describing “dramatic security deterioration.”

European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano issued a statement in response to the decision. “As a response to the dramatic security deterioration, we took the decision to reduce our activities on the ground and we moved the staff of [the] EU delegation in Port-au-Prince to a safer location outside the country,” Stano said.  

“This is not really helping the people of Haiti who have been suffering for a very long time.”

Haiti has been stricken with economic and structural crises for years. With limited food and water supply, the World Food Programme says that close to five million people – half of the island’s population suffer from acute hunger. And without a functioning government for more than a year, a solution has yet to be identified. 

The country’s previous president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in July 2021 and was succeeded by the unelected current prime minister, Ariel Henry, who is refusing to step down. However, In February 2024, Henry agreed to hold general elections by mid-2025, and the international community has worked to find foreign armed aid willing to fight against gang violence.