70 dead in clashes between rival bands in Haiti
Port-ai-Prince, Apr 23 (EFE).- At least 70 people have died and 40 more have been wounded in clashes between rival armed bands in Cite Soleil, the largest slum in Port-au-Prince, between April 14-19, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Sunday.
Among the dead are 18 women and two minors, according to the tally, which also indicates that 12 women have been wounded in the violence.
The humanitarian and security situation in many areas in Cite Soleil, where several hundred thousand people live, has reached an “alarming” level, according to a statement issued by OCHA.
Women and children are especially exposed to the brutality of the armed bands, the document notes.
The fighting is also depriving the public of freedom of movement and access to essential goods and services, and it has led to the closure of many schools and health centers in the area.
The confrontations are increasing in Cite Soleil, with the situation in the Brooklyn zone being as if people are “under siege,” since they cannot leave their homes for fear of the violence and the reign of terror imposed by the armed groups, the humanitarian coordinator for Haiti, Ulrika Richardson, said.
Besides the armed violence, the residents of Cite Soleil are suffering from severe food insecurity and it is one of the country’s epicenters for cholera. Torrential rains in recent weeks have worsened health and living conditions in the huge shantytown.
Located right on the ocean, and adjacent to the capital’s metropolitan area, Cite Soleil has been inundated with waste from the capital and, as a result, the trash is completely blocking access to Brooklyn with no vehicles, including cistern trucks carrying fresh water, being able to enter.
The situation is conducive to a resurgence of the cholera epidemic and the spread of other diseases.
The Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti reiterated the need for humanitarian aid to be able to be brought to those in need, along with protection for health care, educational, humanitarian and essential personnel and for infrastructure, including water supply facilities. The local population must have secure access to basic goods and services and to humanitarian aid, the coordinator said.
Above all, the local population must be able to life with “safety and dignity,” the agency said.
Haiti’s socio-economic and political crisis has gotten worse in recent months, with the spiral of violence and disease having taken some 600 lives nationwide since last October.
All this led Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry last year to call for the dispatch to his beleaguered country of an international force, a request that so far has gone without any concrete response.