Escalating gang violence in Haiti’s capital has displaced thousands without access to basic necessities in just two weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.
UNICEF reported on June 14 that a surge of gang violence in the urban areas of Martissant, Fontamara, and Delmas in the Port-au-Prince capital has burned down or damaged hundreds of homes, forcing nearly 8,500 women and children to flee since early June.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also reported that the escalating gang violence has displaced over 13,900 people, including 5,695 women and 5,984 children, in the last nine months. The displacement currently affects about 650,000 people, most of which are in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, according to the UN office.
“The capital city is now facing an urban guerrilla, with thousands of children and women caught in the crossfire. The displaced families I’ve talked to have lost everything and urgently need clean water, food, personal hygiene items, mattresses, blankets, and clothes,” UNICEF Haiti Representative Bruno Maes said.
The displacement caused by the gang violence comes as COVID-19 cases rise in Haiti.
UNICEF noted that cases have increased from 12,840 to 16,079 in the last two months.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Haiti has now reached 16,561 COVID019 cases.
“COVID-19 cases in Haiti have never been so high since the beginning of the pandemic but right now, some patients are dying because armed gang violence prevents ambulances from reaching them oxygen and emergency treatment,” Maes said.
UNICEF has called on the armed gangs to provide humanitarian access to affected populations.
“Unless we regain access to areas affected by gang violence, more lives are at risk of being lost,” Maes warned.
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