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Haiti: the flight of residents in the Kafou-Feuilles district before the advance of armed gangs

There is no respite for Haitians in the past days. The situation was tense north of Port-au-Prince, where crackling gunfire rang out overnight from Wednesday to Thursday. On the afternoon of Thursday, August 17, gunshots were also heard in the Solino district, located in the heart of the Haitian capital.

In the district of Kafou-Feuilles, many people who escaped took refuge in the Vincent gymnasium located in the heart of the capital, reports our correspondent in Port-au-Prince. Marie-André Belange. Among them, many elderly women and children. Although the authorities give them hot food and access to water for washing, almost all of them sleep on the floor. ” The situation is very difficult, testifies a young person in Carrefour-Feuilles. The thugs pushed me out of my house. Activities are completely paralyzed. I ask the authorities to destroy these thugs and put security in the area. The bandits burned houses when the population was living with difficulty. »

Another resident explained that he heard gang members enter his neighbors’ houses, before raping and killing them. “ After that, they ransacked their houses. And all that they could not take to burn, he said. Imagine my nine-year-old son witnessing these scenes! He will be traumatized for the rest of his life. Even I’m traumatized. I’m wondering if I should see a psychologist, because I feel like I’m going crazy. »

06 AYITI _Testimony he lives in Carrefour-Feuille 5h-8h

Other residents of Kafou-Feuilles managed to find the shelter of their families to return to the place themselves and defend their homes. ” We don’t have the resources, but we are creating a strategy like a vigilance brigade, armed with our machetes and accompanied by some policemen who live in the area. It is not enough because the police in the area do not have resources. Until now, there is no ammunition, no means to fight the gangs, because they have a bigger caliber. »

Lying in a tent at the entrance to the Vincent gymnasium, there is a young woman surrounded by her four young children. Sadness can be read on his face. Armed bandits entered his home and killed his sister, who refused to leave the house. ” I do not feel well, because I have asthma, it is hot in the tent. I left my house since Sunday. Here, they give us food, but it is difficult. I can’t take a bath yet and I don’t even have time to get dressed. »

Assistance to displaced persons

Jerry Chandler, director of civil protection, explained that people are forced to leave their homes spread over a dozen sites. ” Many women and children are victims, he specified. There is distribution of hot food, particularly in the Vincent gymnasium. We continue to work with our partners to support victims. It is in this sense that we started giving food aid to displaced people. A series of actions have been carried out, especially with the national direction for drinking water and sanitation. It is responsible for water management. »

Faced with violence from armed gangs, residents were forced to leave their homes and take refuge in gymnasiums or schools. AP – Odelyn Joseph

According to Jerry Chandler, there is a discussion with the Ministry of Public Health to target displaced people with health problems. ” We listed people with high blood pressure or chronic illnesses. The Ministry must organize the evacuation of the health center with the support of the National Ambulance Center in order to receive care. “, explained the director of civil protection.

A response from the authorities is deemed insufficient

Many citizens accuse the government of not sending the necessary reinforcements. ” It is as if the authorities were handing us over to the butcher. In the evening, you can not sleep, bandits attack people, old women, pregnant women, children. They only retreat when their ammo starts running low. It’s chaos ” said a resident.

The government has an obligation to protect the public. The government must intervene to restore order and security. nonetheless, it should be noted that the police are not equipped and cannot perform several simultaneous operations. Observes Jean Gédéon, from the Center for Analysis and Research on Human Rights (Cardh).

The Cardh repeated his call to strengthen the national police. Its members say they are concerned as human rights activists, professionals, but also and especially as Haitians that Port-au-Prince is almost besieged by gangs. They deplore that measures have not been adopted to limit the damage. “ We are working in very difficult conditions, so we are fighting for international cooperation to finally do something, so that order can be restored in the community. It’s really the only way to solve problems when the police don’t have the proper means to protect life, protect property. “, insists Jean Gédéon.

According to a first provisional assessment, at least 5,000 inhabitants fled Kafou-Feuilles before the advance of armed gangs and ” between January 1 and August 15 of this year, at least 2,439 people died and 902 others were injured. said OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani at the UN briefing in Geneva.

Towards sending a multinational force?

For months, Prime Minister Ariel Henry has been asking for help from the international community. On Tuesday, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, wrote to the Security Council of the United Nations to defend sending a multinational force to Haiti. What should be the plans? What term will it be? Arthur Boutellis, adviser to the International Peace Institute, and specialist in the United Nations and peacekeeping operations, believes that it is not a blue helmet, but rather a multinational force that would still be authorized by the United Nations Security Council, under what they call. chapter 7, which authorizes the use of force.

So that gives a legal framework to this force and international legitimacy, explained advisers at the International Institute of Peace. But that said, it would not be under the blue helmet like the blue helmet of Minustah, the UN force that has been deployed in Haiti since 2004. The Security Council would define this framework, that is, the members. The Security Council through a resolution. They should determine the size of this force, but especially the duration, which means that when the resolution expires, there would be a new session of the Security Council that would consider extending the force and would also do it. possible to have a certain responsibility of this force in the Security Council, which will have to authorize it. »

Why is Council authorization particularly important? ” Because there is always a challenge in the national consensus. This is what Antonio Guterres raised in his report: the importance of an inter-Haitian political dialogue, in the framework of which the force would also be deployed. concluded Arthur Boutellis.

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