UN questions the motives behind the criminal activities in Haiti

April 03, 2024
A woman and her daughter run past a barricade that was set up by police protesting bad police governance in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 26, 2023. Haiti's latest crisis entered full throttle following the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, when current Prime Minister Ariel Henry emerged in a power struggle as the country’s leader and the country's nearly 200 gangs have taken advantage of the chaos, warring for control. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph, File)

The United Nations Wednesday condemned the ongoing political and socio-economic situation in Haiti, questioning also the motivation for the criminal acts by gangs bent on overthrowing the government of Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry.

Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, Stéphane Dujarric, speaking at the daily UN briefing, said that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is reporting that  health facilities in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan areas continue to be impacted by the ongoing violence, further restricting access to life-saving care for people in and around the capital.

He said two health care facilities, the Delmas 18 Hospital and Saint Martin health centre, were  looted by armed groups last week and that while the La Paix University hospital remains open, it is facing “significant strain amid increased workloads for staff”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is continuing to support  the facility, including with the provision of medicine, medical supplies and fuel.

“Our humanitarian colleagues also report that last week, 10 pharmacies in the capital were looted, making it even more difficult for people to get their medication,” Dujarric said.

Asked by reporters whether or not there is the targeting of medical facilities in Haiti and whether there is an illicit drug sales ongoing, the UN spokesman noted that “as in any conflict zone, we are witnessing what is happening.

“What is motivating those criminal acts is one for speculation, but is one really to ask those who are putting the lives of thousands and thousands of people at risk by looting and destroying hospitals, by looting pharmacies.

“I mean, you don’t even know what word to use anymore for people who are doing such things to their own brothers and sisters, in a sense,” Dujarric said.

Asked if the UN believes that the conflict in capital of the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country is expanding, the spokesman replied “it’s expanding”.

He said that the impact is felt in the greater metropolitan area.

“The impact that it’s having outside of Port-au-Prince, as there are population movements from Port-au- Prince, where people are understandably fleeing Port-au-Prince for safer areas, but into areas that are already under strain in terms of humanitarian goods.

“So it’s areas we can’t always get to. And also, they are going into communities that themselves are facing challenges,” he said, adding that “our response efforts continue”.

He said on Tuesday, the World Food Programme (WFP) distributed hot meals to more than 27,000 people in Port-au-Prince and last week, UNICEF, WHO and local partners carried out nearly 600 medical consultations in displacement sites through their mobile clinics.

“UNICEF, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and partners distributed 300,000 litres of water from 23 March through 1 April. Partners have also delivered hygiene kits in displacement sites,” Dujarric said.

Dujarric said that Wednesday also marked the “sad 24th anniversary of the killing of Jean Dominique, “and that crime is yet to be solved”.

Earlier, the Haitian-based media association, SOS Journalists, described as “scandalous” that after 14 years, the case regarding the murder of the journalist  and political commentator,  remains tied up in the judicial system.

Dominique, 70, the outspoken owner and director of the independent station Radio Haïti Inter, was shot dead by an unknown gunman On April 3, 2000. The station’s security guard  guard, Jean Claude Louissaint. was also killed.

The SOS Journalists in a statement said that “it is high time that the judges of the Court fully assume their responsibilities so that justice can finally be done in the case of the double assassination of Jean Dominique and his guardian Jean-Claude Louissaint”.

It said that former senator, Mirlande Liberus-Pavert, and eight other people had been charged in connection with the killings, but that they have been engaged in stalling the trial by arguing that the case should be transferred to another Court of Appeal, outside Port-au-Prince.

“And since then, more than 14 years later, the Court of Cassation…has still not managed to rule on Ms. Pavert’s request to entrust the case to a provincial Court of Appeal,” the media group said.

“SOS Journalists believes that the denial of justice has lasted too long and calls on the judges of the Court of Cassation to meet to urgently rule on the case which has been lying in the drawers of the Haitian justice system for 24 long years,” the media association said, adding that it was calling on all sectors of the society to condemn the existing situation.


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