UN Report: Haiti's Cataclysmic Situation

UN Report: Haiti's Cataclysmic Situation
UN Report: Haiti's Cataclysmic Situation

The situation in chaos-wracked Haiti is "cataclysmic", with more than 1,500 people killed by gang violence so far this year and more weapons pouring into the country, the UN said.

In a fresh report, the United Nations rights office detailed how "corruption, impunity and poor governance, compounded by increasing levels of gang violence had eroded the rule of law and brought state institutions close to collapse".

This, it said, had left Haiti in "a cataclysmic situation".

Impoverished Haiti, which has long grappled with violence, has been rocked by surging clashes since late February when gangs launched a coordinated offensive and demanded Prime Minister Ariel Henry resign.

Henry, who has led Haiti since the 2021 assassination of president Jovenel Moise, promised more than two weeks ago to step down after a transitional council is set up -- though reaching that stage has proved exceedingly difficult due to squabbles among party leaders.

In the meantime, the number of victims is skyrocketing.

The UN rights office determined that gang violence left 4,451 people dead and another 1,668 injured last year.

And just in the first three months of 2024 alone, up to March 22, 1,554 people were killed and 826 injured, it said.

The report described rampant sexual violence, including women forced into exploitative sexual relations with gang members, rapes of hostages and of women after seeing their husbands killed in front of them.

And it highlighted the recruitment and abuse of children -- both boys and girls -- who are unable to leave the ranks of gangs for fear of retaliation.

At least 528 cases of lynchings were reported last year, including 18 women, according to the report, while 59 more have been reported so far this year.