UN laments rising death toll and human rights violations in Haiti

TANZANIA – The UN human rights office on Saturday expressed concern at rising violence in the Haiti capital, saying 99 people had been killed in recent fighting between rival gangs in the Cite Soleil district alone.

The warning came hours after the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution renewing the mandate of a UN office in the troubled Caribbean state and calling on all countries to halt the transfer of small arms, light weapons and ammunition to people who support gang violence and crime there activity.

UN agencies said they were ready to help struggling communities as soon as it was safe to do so, and Jeremy Laurence, spokesman for the UN refugee agency, laid out those dangers.

“So far from January to the end of June we have documented 934 murders, 684 injuries and 680 kidnappings across the capital,” he said on Saturday. “Over a five-day period, from July 8 to 12, at least 234 other people were killed or injured in gang-related violence in the Cite Soleil district.”

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He said most of the victims were “not directly involved in gangs” but were targeted by them.

Separately, the UN Humanitarian Affairs Office reported that 99 of the most recent casualties at Cite Soleil were deaths.

Laurence called on the gangs to stop the violence and urged the Haitian authorities to ensure that basic human rights “are at the heart of their responses to the crisis. Fighting impunity and sexual violence must remain a priority along with strengthening human rights monitoring and reporting,” he said.

The Security Council resolution drafted by the United States and Mexico was approved 15-0 on Friday. It called for an immediate cessation of gang violence and criminal activities – a point stressed by China.

“The heavily armed gangs are becoming more sophisticated in their actions, conducting simultaneous, coordinated and organized attacks in different areas,” Laurence said.

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The government, he said, has a duty to protect citizens’ right to life, even from threats posed by private entities.

The UN agencies said some gangs are even denying access to drinking water and food to control the population, exacerbating malnutrition.

US Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills said the new resolution will allow the UN mission to promote political dialogue and strengthen the Haitian National Police’s ability to control gang violence and protect human rights.

A year after the unsolved assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, gang violence has intensified and many Haitians have sought to flee a country that appears to be in economic and social free fall. Attempts to form a coalition government have failed and efforts to hold general elections have stalled.

The United Nations has been involved in Haiti with interruptions since 1990, the last UN peacekeeping mission was in the country from 2004 to October 2017. The political mission there now advises the Haitian government on promoting political stability and good governance.

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https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/07/16/un-decries-rising-death-toll-rights-violations-in-haiti/ UN laments rising death toll and human rights violations in Haiti

Sarah Y. Kim

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