Haitians queue to collect petrol at a gas station in Port-au-Prince Haitians queue to collect petrol at a gas station in Port-au-Prince   (AFP or licensors)

Archbishop Mésidor: Gang violence in Haiti must be stopped now

As gang violence continues to ravage Haiti, the UN Security Council adopts a resolution that calls on all countries to stop the transfer of small arms, weapons and ammunitions to the country. Archbishop Max Leroy Mésidor of Port-au-Prince insists on the urgent need to disarm criminal gangs.

By Lisa Zengarini

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution extending the mandate of the U.N. mission in crisis-torn Haiti (BINUH) until July 15, 2023, and calling on all countries to stop the transfer of small arms to any party on the island supporting gang violence and criminal activity.

The resolution drafted by the United States and Mexico passed by 15 votes to zero on Friday against a rival text proposed by China that would have authorized a U.N. arms embargo on the island nation.

Growing  poverty

It comes as gang-related violence continues unabated in the country amid a crippling economic crisis and socio-political turmoil, causing many Haitians to flee to the Dominican Republic or to the United States. Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the world, has been contending with a down falling economy, political instability and a rising spate of insecurity for years.  The situation has further deteriorated after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, on July 7,  2021, and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that followed in August killing over 2,000 people and plunging Haitians into further poverty.

Gang violence increasing

Since then gang-related killings, kidnappings and turf wars have increased even more also targeting the Catholic Church, an institution that has long been a pillar of Haitian society, with several religious kidnapped for ransom. In the latest incident, an Italian nun, Sister Luisa Dell’Orto, who dedicated her life to caring for poor children in Haiti, was killed on June 25 in Port-au-Prince, during an armed robbery.

A daily curse for Haitians 

This week, officials in Haiti's capital reported that at least 89 people had died as a result of days of fighting between rival gangs in the violent Cite Soleil neighbourhood. Condemning this latest spate of violence,  the head of the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince,  Archbishop  Max Leroy Mésidor, once again appealed to police and state authorities, but also to the international community, for bold and immediate action to stop the gang violence.

In a country already marked by so much misery and suffering, “violence and insecurity have become a daily curse  for people”, he said.

He decried the complete absence of State institutions allowing gangs to operate unhindered, but also the lack of support from other countries.  

“Bandits seem to enjoy unlimited freedom. They hold meetings to prepare for their attacks. Worse still, the social networks offer them a wide publicity, in utter contempt for the suffering and the right to justice of the victims.”

Urgent need to disarm gangs

Archbishop  Mésidor insisted on the urgent need to disarm gangs:  “People have the right to expect immediate action from the police to disarm illegal gangs”, he said.

The UN resolution

The UN resolution adopted on Friday urges the Haitian government to strengthen the rule of law, tackle social and economic problems, initiate violence reduction programs, singling out the need to target sexual violence and manage weapons and ammunition. It also calls for the illicit trafficking and diversion of arms and illicit financial flows to be urgently addressed.

Listen to our report:
16 July 2022, 16:24