Mon, 04 Dec 2023

Geneva [Switzerland], March 21 (ANI): Amid raging violance and a fast deteriorating situation in Haiti, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that over 530 people were killed in the gang violence.

According to the statement released by the OHCHR, spokesperson Marta Hurtado said from January to 15 March, a total of 531 people were killed, 300 injured and 277 kidnapped in gang-related incidents that took place mainly in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Over the Haiti gang violence, OHCHR said that they are "gravely concerned" over extreme violence continuing to spiral out of control in Haiti.

Clashes between gangs are becoming more violent and more frequent, as they try to expand their territorial control throughout the capital and other regions by targeting people living in areas controlled by rivals.

"Since the beginning of the year, up to March 15, a total of 531 people were killed, 300 injured and 277 kidnapped in gang-related incidents that took place mainly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, according to information gathered by the Human Rights Service of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti," Hurtado said in a statement.

"In the first two weeks of March alone, clashes among gangs left at least 208 killed, 164 injured and 101 kidnapped. Most of the victims were killed or injured by snipers who were reportedly randomly shooting at people in their homes or on the streets. Sexual violence is also used by gangs against women and girls to terrorize, subjugate and punish the population. Gang members frequently use sexual violence against abducted girls to pressure families to pay a ransom," she added.

The spokesperson added that because of such a situation, people are fleeing. As of mid-March 2023, at least 160,000 people have been displaced and are in a precarious situation, staying with friends or relatives and having to share meagre resources. A quarter of those displaced lives in makeshift settlements, with very limited access to basic services such as drinking water and sanitation.

Chronic instability and gang violence have contributed to surging prices and food insecurity. Half of the population does not have enough to eat, and in some areas, such as Cite Soleil, hunger has reached particularly alarming levels.

During his visit to Haiti in February, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, issued a wake-up call to the international community that has yet to be acted upon. His recommendations are more urgent than ever.

The High Commissioner urges the Haitian authorities to immediately address the grave security situation.

UN advised National Police to strengthen so that they will be able to respond to the huge challenges it faces, in a manner consistent with its human rights obligations. People must be able to return to their homes under safe and dignified conditions. We call on the international community to support these efforts. Authorities must also undertake a profound reform of the judicial and penitentiary system, the statement read citing Hurtado.

To break the cycle of violence, corruption and impunity, all those responsible, including those providing support and finance to the gangs, must be prosecuted and tried according to the rule of law. The rights to truth, justice and reparations of all victims must be fulfilled.

"We also call on the international community to urgently consider the deployment of a time-bound specialized support force under conditions that conform to international human rights laws and norms, with a comprehensive and precise action plan," she said. (ANI)

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