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As the crisis worsens in the country, the UN Security Council called a special session this Tuesday, February 13, 2024, to discuss the economic and security considerations and implications of the security mission to be led by Kenya which is still in a limbo following a Kenyan judge’s ruling that the mission will be unconstitutional. Present at the discussions is a strong delegation of Haitian officials led by the Minster of Justice, Emmelie M. Prophète and the national police commissioner, Frantz Elbé, who are in Washington to make sure final preparations are made for the deployment of the multinational mission for security. Workshops have started on Monday with discussions on the economics of the mission which involves Kenya’s insistence on a sum of US$225million as prize money for their leadership of the mission. Following statements by the US President at the UN General Assembly last year, the UN Security Council approved a peace keeping mission to the country to help the police contain the insecurity that has gained ground in the country. The force was to be led by Kenya with about a thousand officers, with other nations joining also. But as of January, this year, the force is yet to materialize because a Kenyan court called sending troops to Haiti illegal, unconstitutional and invalid.

While on security and the crisis, the international organization for migration (IOM) reported that more than 2,600 people have been displaced in the communes of Carrefour, Cité Soleil and Tabarre following attacks by armed gangs who wreaked havoc in these neighborhoods from Monday, February 5 to Sunday February 11, 2024.  1,819 displaced people were counted following attacks in the commune of Carrefour and 867 following those in neighborhoods bordering the communes of Cité Soleil and Tabarre. Most of the displaced people, 94%, took refuge with host families and 6% in two sites. 100 displaced people came to settle in Place Clercine, in the commune of Tabarre, which already existed before these incidents, increasing the number to 480 people. In fact, 380 people were already accommodated at Place Clercine.

Furthermore, 54 people took refuge in a newly created site at the Ramoth de Marin school in the commune of Croix-Des-Bouquets.  Armed clashes have been going on now for several days between rival gangs, in the plaine du Cul-de-Sac, in the Terre Noire and Blanchard areas, in the commune of Cité Soleil. 

In what can be considered a related violent and gang infested activity, more than 8 hectares of sugar cane fields have been burnt down forcing the rhum company Babancourt to suspend production and all public activities until further notice. Though the fire does not directly affect the production, the company assures the public that it is taking this precautionary measure for the benefit of the neighboring communities who gain from the distribution of free treated water, a free medical care center, a playground and football and basketball fields. In a statement made public, the Babancourt Foundation said their primary concern remains the safety of their employees, their families and the surrounding communities and they’re continuing to monitor the security situation on a day-to-day basis, to determine when it will be prudent to reopen the activities of the Barbancourt Foundation. Armed bandits, who have settled since Wednesday, November 1, 2023, in Marian, are trying to invade several areas in the commune of Carrefour, such as Rivière Froide, Beten, and De Michel, with the aim of expanding their territories. In the same Carrefour, jungle justice claimed the life of Jean Michel, a former local elected official from the 10th municipal section, who was accused of collaborating with the gangs.  Members of the brigade in the locality of “Do Karyann” accused him of acting as an informant for armed gangs, thus contributing to spreading terror within the communities. They alleged the discovery of compromising messages on his cell phone confirming his links with gangs. According to eyewitnesses, the brigade, accompanied by some members of the public, set the victim ablaze.

Meanwhile, the increasing security issues and fears could not dampen the spirit of carnival goers. Despite anti-government demonstrations and the growing unrest in the country, especially in the capital and major cities across the country, the municipal government kicked off carnival festivities at the Champ-de-Mars on Sunday, February 11, 2024.  Unperturbed by the gang violence taking place simultaneously in carrefour, marching bands paraded down Champs-de-Mars and parade goers dances to the rhythms of music from DJs who blare catching rhythms from loudspeakers erected in the park for the event. For several years, carnival festivities have been losing their influence, due to the worsening security situation and the difficult socio-economic living conditions of the Haitian population. In a statement from the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the interim chief executive of Port-au-Prince, Luckson Janvier, encouraged carnival goers to help each other and join forces to build a new Haiti while renewing his commitment and goodwill to work for the wellbeing of the capital city. The Ministry of Culture and Communication (MCC) further congratulated all involved in the organizing for the multiple roles they played in the success of the carnival festivities across the country, particularly that of Port-au-Prince.

But to some protesters present at the Champs-de-Mars, there was no carnival because they know they can’t organize the carnival, but that doesn’t stop them from stealing the carnival money. This money should rather be used to help displaced families.

According to an official decree (decree of May 23, 1989), Tuesday February 13, 2024, and Wednesday February 14, 2024, will be paid holidays across the nation. A strong police presence was noted in various strategic axes at Champ-de-Mars to secure the progress of the festivities, while state authorities are reluctant to mobilize this same force to combat armed gangs in the country. In its note, the Ministry of Communication boasts of the presence of health professionals and ambulances, which were mobilized to rescue possible victims. Firefighters are also on site in the event of a fire, he adds. People question why such support systems have not been mobilized to help the residents of Rivière Froide, 11th municipal section of Carrefour and those of the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac and Cité Soleil, who are forced to currently abandoning their homes because of violent attacks by armed gangs in the area?

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