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Torrential rains have hit the western, Northwest, Southeast and Central Departments over the
weekend leaving in its wake a death toll of 42 people, some 85 people wounded and 11 reported
missing. According to the authorities, more than 13,600 homes have been flooded, forcing
people to evacuate. But no sooner has the country stepped out to assess the damage than Mother
Nature struck again. Early this morning, Tuesday, June 6, 2023, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake
shook Jérémie in the Grand’Anse, killing at least 3 people according to early assessment from the
authorities. Two people in the Saint-Hélène neighborhood died instantly when their home
collapsed, and the third victim dies in a hospital. Meanwhile, rescue workers are working around
the clock to find people under the rubble. The aftershocks were felt in the South Department,
creating panic among the populace. In addition, the meteorological services l’Unité
Hydrométéorologique (UHM), are predicting more rains in the coming days. According to
Sterlin Marcelin of the UHM, there will be continuous rain in the coming days, especially as
tropical waves are currently in the Caribbean with the potential to cause rains on the southern
peninsula. The rain though will not be as heavy as this past weekend, but the risk of flooding is
high, because the level of saturation of the soil from the weekend can cause floods, rockslides,
and landslides. Those living in risk areas are cautioned to be vigilant.
Though the weather has been improving, many crops have been damaged at a time when many
are at risk of starvation, and others struggling to find temporary shelters after the rain turned
roads into rushing rivers of brown water. The World Food Program has stated that tens of
thousands of people have been affected, with the most damage reported in Port-au-Prince’s
metropolitan area and in the western region. A significant weather-induced event of this level so
early in the hurricane season raises concerns about the country’s ability to provide a sustained
response should extreme weather incidents continue to occur. With heavy rains coming at a time
when the country is facing rampant gang violence, interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry stated
that his government is working with national and international institutions and aid agencies to
adopt urgent measures to meet the demands of the day. Aid agencies have been delivering food
to displaced persons as civil protection officials warned over the weekend that the agricultural
sector in parts of the country had been hard hit. The rains coincide with the start of the Atlantic
hurricane season, which runs from June to November.
In other news, the human rights group RNDDH, has condemned the inhumane treatment and
degrading conditions in which detainees kept in overcrowded cells in the police stations, as the
police rely on makeshift prisons to warehouse detainees amid the heightened insecurity and
inadequately functioning judicial system. The group visited six police stations in the West
Department and found alarming conditions, prompting a call for immediate action from the
judicial system which has struggled for years and is facing strikes by staff who are demanding
better working conditions. The rights group took exception to the Port-au-Prince police precinct,
where 92 prisoners were being kept in 2 filthy cells intended just for 10 people each, for a
maximum of 48 hours, ahead of scheduled court appearances. These prisoners are held in such
filthy conditions for months on end, receiving no visits, reducing their access to food and water
normally brought by relatives. The precinct also held 38 women, some of whom slept in the
chief’s office overnight under police supervision, where other detainees were permitted “a
breather” during the day. A female detainee was eight months pregnant in November, when she
suffered a medical issue at the station and was taken to hospital for further tests, where it was
discovered that her child had died and her life was at risk. Another woman, who was six months

pregnant, had not been examined since her January arrest. These detainees have not been
transferred to other prisons because of the same overcrowding across the country or gang
violence which makes it difficult for the authorities to transport the detainees. A UN study found
that between January and April last year, there have been 54 deaths due to malnutrition in the
country’s prisons.
Elsewhere, former Prime Minister, Laurent S. Lamothe out rightly rejected the US’s sanctions
against him for diverting at least US60m from the PetroCaribe funds for private purposes, stating
that US government decision, made known through Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken is not
based on factual evidence, but on recycled rumors dating from his time in office from 2012 to

  1. In a statement made to the press, the former PM said that the sanctions are only in
    response to the wishes of some of his detractors and political adversaries in the country, as
    recognized in the November 2022 report to the U.S. Congress (pursuant to Section 107 of the
    Act on Haiti’s Institutional Development, Accountability and Transparency Initiative), pointing
    out that no specific disappearance of funds had been identified in the PetroCaribe report. Mr.
    Laurent went on to state that during his time as Prime Minister, these same opponents
    maneuvered to undermine his ability to govern by sparking civil unrest and violent
    demonstrations against the government. According to Mr. Lamothe, over the past nine years, five
    independent audits of the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Disputes (CSCCA),
    the Anti-Corruption Unit (ULCC) and the Venezuelan government (PDV CARIBE) thoroughly
    reviewed his financial management and found no wrongdoing on his part. He also recalled in the
    press release that he has been an exemplary member of the Miami community since his
    university years, contributing to the local economy through his businesses and job creation.
    South Florida is also home to his two daughters, and he said he’s determined to pursue every
    legal avenue available to him to challenge the State Department’s designation, in order to restore
    his honor, stand up for the truth, and, above all, reunite with his family.
    Dela Harlley

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