The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is facing an unexpected challenge in Haiti. The level of armed violence continues to escalate to an alarming extent. The ICRC Director-General, Robert Mardini, spoke about the dire situation. He stated that the outrageous number of gangs in the country is hindering humanitarian efforts.
Approximately 300 gangs are operating in Haiti, and more than half of the capital, Port-au-Prince, is operated by them. The extended violence has pushed many health facilities to cease operations, leaving a significant portion of the population without access to essential healthcare services. Health workers are frequently threatened, making it even more challenging to deliver crucial medical assistance.
Mardini described the dreadful conditions in shanty towns, with sewage-contaminated water flooding the streets of poor neighborhoods like Cité Soleil. People in these communities live in constant fear of violence, kidnappings, and clashes. Adding more pain to their misery.
The insecurity levels are so severe that individuals are often confined to their neighborhoods due to gang-controlled areas. This situation hinders their ability to access necessary services. Ordinary tasks, such as getting medical help or traveling to hospitals, have become risky affairs due to the violent environment.
To operate in areas beyond the reach of state control and plagued by armed groups, the ICRC engages in a continuous dialogue with the gangs. Mardini stressed the importance of maintaining this dialogue to ensure the organization’s ability to assist the Haitian population effectively. He highlighted the need for consistent communication despite the ever-changing dynamics and internal conflicts within the gangs.
In response to the escalating crisis, the ICRC has announced plans to intensify its humanitarian efforts in Haiti during 2024. This includes enhanced training for emergency health staff and the country’s ambulance service. Consequently, to streamline access to critical emergency services for those most impacted by the violence. Additionally, the ICRC will increase the provision of medical kits to hospitals, facilitating better treatment for wounded patients.
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Mardini urged the international community to step in and address the worsening situation in Haiti. He emphasized the ethical and moral responsibility to boost aid efforts. With millions of people in Haiti dependent on humanitarian aid, urgent action is needed to alleviate the suffering and improve stability and recovery in the nation.