Haitians need aid and face ‘staggering levels’ of gender violence, UN children’s chief says

Jun 29, 2023, 9:45 PM | Updated: Jun 30, 2023, 3:36 am

People displaced by gang violence stand in Jean-Kere Almicar's front yard, where they have sought r...

People displaced by gang violence stand in Jean-Kere Almicar's front yard, where they have sought refuge, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, June 4, 2023. Nearly 200 people who once lived in the Cite Soleil slum near Almicar’s house are now camped out in his front yard and nearby areas. They are among the nearly 165,000 Haitians who have fled their homes amid a surge in gang violence. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

(AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Close to half of Haiti’s people, 2.2 million adults and 3 million children, need humanitarian aid and thousands of youngsters face “staggering levels” of gender-based violence, the head of the U.N. children’s agency said Thursday.

“Haitians and our team, they’re telling me it’s never been worse than it is now — unprecedented hunger and malnutrition, grinding poverty, a crippled economy, resurgence of cholera, and a massive insecurity that creates a deadly downward spiral of violence,” said Catherine Russell, the executive director of UNICEF.

Russell said what was clear during her just-completed visit was that the police don’t have the capacity to secure the country and protect the population from violent gangs and “something needs to change.”

“We have to, as an international community, say we can’t watch this country completely fall apart,” she said. “And so my job is to try to bring some attention to that problem and to make sure people understand how terrible the humanitarian crisis is, what kind of impact that’s having on children.”

Russell repeated at a news conference some of the stories she heard at a center for survivors of gender-based violence in a dangerous part of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

An 11-year-old girl who was eight months pregnant recounted how five men had grabbed her on the street and raped her, Russell said. The girl gave birth days after their talk, she said.

Also at the center, Russell heard from a woman who described how men barged into her home and raped her. And when her 20-year-old sister resisted, they killed her by setting her on fire and then burned down the house.

“I was told this is part of a new strategy by the armed groups — they rape girls and women and they burn their homes to make them more vulnerable and more easily controlled,” Russell said.

Russell spoke a day after William O’Neill, who was appointed in April by the U.N. human rights chief as the U.N. expert on Haiti, said at the end of a 10-day visit to the beleaguered Caribbean nation that a specialized international force is needed to fight gang violence and that a weapons embargo should be implemented immediately.

“I found a country bruised by violence, misery, fear and suffering,” O’Neill said Wednesday, adding that all types of human rights are being violated. “It is urgent to take action. The survival of an entire nation is at stake.”

An understaffed and under-resourced police department has been struggling to fight against warring gangs that have grown more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. The violence has led to an increase in starvation, with people unable to leave their homes and trucks unable to deliver goods.

The surge in killings, rapes and kidnappings has led to violent reprisals, with civilians killing nearly 200 people since April in attacks on suspected gang members.

Since October, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been urging the immediate deployment of an international armed force to stem the gang violence and Haiti’s worst human rights crisis in decades. He warned in April that insecurity in the capital “has reached levels comparable to countries in armed conflict.”

Neither the United States, which has been criticized for previous interventions in Haiti, nor Canada have shown any interest in leading such a force. The international community has instead opted to impose sanctions and send military equipment and other resources.

National News

Associated Press

Arizona’s sweltering summer could set new record for most heat-associated deaths in big metro

PHOENIX (AP) — America’s hottest metro area is on track to set an annual record for heat-associated deaths after a sweltering summer, particularly in Phoenix. Public health officials in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and Arizona’s most populous county, said Friday that 289 heat associated deaths were confirmed as of Sept. 16, with another 262 […]

1 hour ago

Kouri Richins, left, a Utah mother of three who authorities say fatally poisoned her husband, Eric ...

Associated Press

Jailhouse letter adds wrinkle in case of mom accused of killing husband, then writing kids’ book

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Jailhouse writings by a Utah mother accused of killing her husband, then writing a children’s book about death, have led prosecutors to accuse her of trying to tamper with witnesses, an allegation that her attorneys say is baseless. A relative of Kouri Richins meanwhile went public in an interview Friday […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Jury convicts ex-NFL draft prospect of fatally shooting man at Mississippi casino

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — A former NFL draft prospect has been found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for shooting a man to death on the floor of a casino on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. Jurors deliberated for only 46 minutes Thursday before reaching a guilty verdict in the trial of Jereme […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — ABC’s “This Week” — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg; Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio. __ NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Buttigieg; former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican presidential candidate; Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C. __ CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Olena Zelenska, first lady of Ukraine; Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.; Rep. Tony Gonzales, […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former N...

Associated Press

3rd Republican presidential debate is set for Nov. 8 in Miami, with the strictest qualifications yet

The third Republican presidential debate will be held in Miami on Nov. 8, a day after several states hold off-year elections, and candidates will be facing the most stringent requirements yet to take part. Participating candidates must secure 4% of the vote in multiple polls and 70,000 unique donors to earn a spot on the […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Video of Elijah McClain’s stop by police shown as officers on trial in Black man’s death

BRIGHTON, Colo. (AP) — Elijah McClain’s mother left a Colorado courtroom in tears Friday after prosecutors showed video footage of the 23-year-old Black man pinned down by police officers during a fatal 2019 confrontation, which rose to prominence during nationwide protests over racial discrimination and excessive force in policing. Two officers from the Denver suburb […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Haitians need aid and face ‘staggering levels’ of gender violence, UN children’s chief says