Gangs Control Haiti's Capital as Transitional Council Plans Swearing-In Amid Deadly Violence

Haiti's capital is under gang control, with over 2,500 killed/wounded in 3 months. A transitional council wants to be sworn in at the National Palace, but security concerns loom as gangs threaten to disrupt the ceremony.

Shivani Chauhan
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Gangs Control Haiti's Capital as Transitional Council Plans Swearing-In Amid Deadly Violence

Gangs Control Haiti's Capital as Transitional Council Plans Swearing-In Amid Deadly Violence

Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, is under the control of brutal gangs, with over 2,500 people killed or wounded from January to March 2023, a more than 50% increase compared to the same period last year. Despite the ongoing violence, a transitional council charged with selecting a new prime minister and cabinet is demanding to be sworn in at the National Palace on Wednesday.

The push to hold the ceremony at the palace is seen as a display of power to suggest the Haitian government is still in charge, even as gangs control most of the territory surrounding the National Palace. Gangs have previously attacked the palace and have threatened to disrupt the ceremony.

The violence has crippled critical infrastructure in Port-au-Prince, including the main international airport and the country's largest seaport, leaving essential supplies stuck. Hospitals and clinics are running low on life-saving medications and equipment, with the Doctors Without Borders hospital in the Cite Soleil slum struggling to treat patients. Several medical institutions have been forced to close due to the daily gang violence in the city.

Why this matters: The spiraling chaos in Haiti has left the country on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe, with over 4 million people requiring food aid and the healthcare system nearing total collapse. The international community is grappling with how to effectively assist Haiti in restoring security and stability amid the complex political and security challenges.

UN Special Representative Maria Isabel Salvador stressed the need for improved security in Haiti to allow for further political progress. She called for the urgent deployment of the Multinational Security Support mission and the effective use of sanctions against Haiti's gang factions. "A much-improved security situation is a necessary condition for further progress," Salvador said, noting that gang leaders and other spoilers have stated their intention to violently disrupt the current political process.

As preparations continue for the swearing-in ceremony, sporadic gunfire has broken out near the National Palace. Some Haitians doubt the ceremony will be held at the palace due to the lack of security in the country. "Swearing in the council at the National Palace is considered too risky by some regional officials, who are urging members to choose a safer venue," said a local resident.

Key Takeaways

  • Port-au-Prince under gang control, 2,500 killed/wounded in Q1 2023.
  • Transitional council demands swearing-in at National Palace, despite gang threats.
  • Critical infrastructure crippled, healthcare system nearing collapse in Haiti.
  • UN calls for improved security, urgent deployment of multinational force.
  • Swearing-in ceremony at National Palace considered too risky by officials.