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During a three-day fact finding mission to the country, the current Operations Manager of the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Martin Schüepp, found out that there’s enormous
suffering in the country, with many people living in very difficult conditions, made even more
complicated by armed violence that has ravaged and traumatized the population. He said he wanted to see
firsthand what the people are going through in order to see how the ICRC can respond to their needs and
also carry the message of what he came to see to others. The ICRC’s local partner, the Haitian Red Cross
has indicated that they’ve been providing targeted support to the people through focusing on emergency
health care, in particular by helping to fight cholera. He admitted that they try to have discussions with
their colleagues to see if their targeted efforts are bearing fruit, acknowledging that they cannot face it
alone. There has to be an increased commitment, also from other actors, to find humanitarian solutions to
bring more support to the people. Speaking of the Haitian Red Cross, Mr. Schüepp agrees that the
international body cannot leave them alone to face this terrible situation rather; the ICRC must work to
strengthen the capacities of the local branch to be able to take charge of the problems they face.
Meanwhile, the gangs have had an extremely busy weekend in the capital metropolitan area, with killings
and kidnappings that were lethal, at a time when the police’s operation “Tornado 1” was in full swing. It
appears the police operation has infuriated Vitelhomme Innocent, who was alleged to have announced a
“bloodbath “in areas that he controlled in response to the police operation in his stronghold. As a result,
there was carnage and kidnappings on the road to Frères, in Diègue, in Malik, in Péguy-Ville, in
Caradeux, as well as in downtown Port-au-Prince. On Friday, in Frères, four people were killed near the
police academy, when heavily armed gang members descended on the area and spread bullets into both
locals and passersby, creating panic and wounding a lot more people, who were evacuated to
neighborhood hospitals. Five victims were reported in Diègue, a neighborhood in Petionville, where
eyewitnesses reported that the deaths occurred when gang members loyal to Vitelhomme attacked a water
distribution business in the area, going into the premises and shooting at random, killing four and another
bystander on the street. Reports say that the gangs are trying to scare the people in the neighborhoods in
order to install their operations there. In Malik, the Kraze baryè gang also executed 13 people, while at
least 5 people were killed in broad daylight on Saturday in Caradeux. The images of corpses, lying on the
ground, were circulated on social media, causing indignation and anger. The victims are mostly
motorcyclists and motorists who used public transportation.

Furthermore, there were reports of several cases of kidnappings at the same time, with witnesses reporting
that the gangs kidnapped a doctor in Peguy Ville before killing him in the middle of the street on Sunday
evening, causing a huge panic in the area. Others reported that three worshippers at a Baptist Church on
Rue de la Réunion were kidnapped on Sunday morning. They include two Sunday school teachers and the
wife of one of them, who were preparing to return home after the first service and Sunday school around
10:30 am. There are reports that increasingly, rape has been used as a weapon when young women are
targeted for kidnapping. Though sexual violence has been used across the world as an instrument of war,
the practice currently in Haiti has taken on a more sinister tone. Used to sow terror and control
communities, it is increasingly barbaric as there is a finite amount of money to be extorted from a people
that are increasingly poor. According to the International Crisis Group’s Deputy Director for Latin
America and the Caribbean, Renata Segura, the gangs are running out of tools to control people and since
extortion is increasingly not lucrative, rape is the one thing they have they can inflict on the population.
This also has caused fear across the capital causing parents to hesitate to send their children to school
worried they could be kidnapped or raped by gangs. By night, the buzzing streets of the city empty, and
women increasing fear going out because of the risks. The gangs also use the threat of rape to stop
communities from abandoning the areas they control. In an article that appeared on Yahoo news, the UN
Special envoy in Haiti, Helen La Lime told the Security Council that the gangs employ sexual violence to
destroy the social fabric of communities, particularly in areas controlled by rival gangs. They rape girls
and boys as young as 10, and what is more galling is the fact that there’s underreporting of these cases

because the women fear the gangs will seek revenge on them, while they don’t trust the police to be of
any help. Compounding that is severe underreporting, making it difficult for any authority to grasp the
full extent of the damage, while the current government, which many view as illegitimate, has never come
out to say what it is doing to address the issue. The U.N. documented 2,645 cases of sexual violence in
2022, a 45% increase from the previous year before, although that figure might just be a fraction of the
real number of assaults.
Finally, journalists have called for a march on Tuesday to demand the release of one of their colleagues,
Jean Thony Lorthé, who was kidnapped together with his elder brother Odner Lorthé and Mylove Jordain
on February 3, 2023, in Laboule 12. The march was expected to start from Place de Pont Morin along
Avenue Lamartinière, better known as “Bois Verna”, stopping in front of the Ministry of Communication
premises and end at Avenue John Brown Avenue, better known as “Lalue”, in front of the private station
Radio Vision 2000, where the journalist worked for many years. According to Nancy Lainé, the
coordinator of Renagsang (the National Network of Rh-Negative Blood Groups), of which Jean Thony
Lorthé is the spokesperson, the journalist, who is ill, and should take his medication, cannot do so because
he has been sequestered for 12 days so far.
The Biden humanitarian parole program is increasingly looking like a poisoned gift whose unintended
consequences have not been well thought off. For starters, there’s the pressure on relatives in the Diaspora
to come to the aid of their relatives back home even if their own material situation is not that good.
There’s a lot of pressure and threats from those wishing to get out of the situation in the old country,
leading to family division in certain cases. Then there’s the rush for passports that also created a cottage
industry and a gridlock in the passport office in the country, and where there’s chaos, there’re others who
will want to take advantage. There is a new online scam on facebook that seek to offer sponsorship to
those with no relatives to support them as part of the program. These clandestine scammers are seeking
fees from US$2,000 to US$10,000 to start the process for those interested. The United States Immigration
and Citizenship Service wrote on its twitter account that migrants must be vigilant in the face of these
offers. They should be aware of people posing as USCIS agents and offering to support them. The
government contact interested parties only through official government channels, and not through social
media platforms. Then there’s the most pernicious of all, members of the national police themselves have
cut the lines at the passport offices to get their papers and leave, causing a shortage of those capable of
helping address the insecurity in the country.
Dela Harlley

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