Via Crucis procession during Good Friday celebrations in Port-au-Prince Via Crucis procession during Good Friday celebrations in Port-au-Prince 

Church in Haiti calls for security for people and sacred places

The Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince calls on authorities to protect people and places of worship after recalling the latest kidnappings, at the Oratory of Saint Bartholomew, which also resulted in numerous serious injuries.

By Benedetta Capelli

Haiti was among the many countries mentioned by Pope Francis in his Easter Urbi et Orbi Message. The Holy Father called for the commitment of the international community in seeking a definitive solution to the many problems afflicting the Caribbean country, which is caught in a political and social, but also humanitarian, crisis.

The latest episode of violence took place on April 13th, at the end of Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Max Leroy Mesidor, when armed men broke into the Church, kidnapping several people and leaving two other people seriously injured and in need of hospitalization.

“This act of kidnapping is one too many, undermining both the integrity of a sacred place of worship and the freedom of movement of people in the country,” the Archdiocese said in a statement. “The Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince,” the statement continued, “once again expresses its indignation at such acts, which spare no one and respect no place; in this sense, it demands that the State authorities finally guarantee the security of lives and property, and that they prosecute and condemn those who operate the kidnapping industry and profit from it."

The Archdiocesan added, “God wants his children to be free and not to be oppressed or treated as slaves,” concluding with a prayer: “God is the helper of His people. May He be gracious to us, bless us, and save us.

Ever-increasing insecurity

The humanitarian situation is alarming. Recently, the humanitarian aid organization Save the Children reported that 50% of Haiti's children suffer from acute malnutrition. The situation is aggravated by gang violence, political instability, and rising inflation.

According to recent data, 5 million people (almost half the population, including 1.9 million children) are classified as severely food insecure. Of these, almost 2 million are facing an emergency situation.

The insecurity has led to the temporary closure of the Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) hospital, which has been in Port-au-Prince in the Cité Soleil area for 30 years. The decision was made after it became impossible to guarantee the safety of patients and staff due to numerous clashes in the vicinity.

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19 April 2023, 14:31