Violence in Haiti: Following a widespread jailbreak, gangs there demand the resignation of the prime minister

Following the invasion of a large prison by armed gangs on Sunday, the government of Haiti issued a 72-hour state of emergency. During the jailbreak, over 3,700 prisoners fled and at least 12 individuals were killed. Prime Minister Ariel Henry is being called upon by gang leaders to resign; his whereabouts are unknown as he recently visited Kenya. Over 80% of Port-au-Prince, the capital, is under the hands of gangs. Haiti has long been plagued by gang violence. According to a government statement, two jails were assaulted over the weekend: one in Port-au-Prince and the other in the neighboring town of Croix des Bouquets.


It declared that the “disobedience” constituted a threat to national security and, in reaction, it was enacting an urgent curfew that began at 20:00 local time on Monday, January 1st, GMT. According to Haitian media, police stations were targeted in an attempt to divert attention from the authorities prior to the planned attack on the jails. Speaking to the BBC from Haiti, International Rescue Committee member Serge Dalexis claimed that on Friday, gangs had taken control of numerous police stations and that “many police killed over the weekend.” Suspects accused of involvement in President Jovenel Moïse’s 2021 assassination were among those held in Port-au-Prince. Since his murder in 2021, there has been an increase in gang-related violence. Since 2016, there have been no presidential elections, and Mr. Moïse has not been replaced.


In the capital, gangs have erected barricades to prevent security forces from encroaching on their territory, while their strongholds in Port-au-Prince’s vast shantytowns are still largely on lockdown. Schools and many businesses are closed, and there are reports of looting in some neighbourhoods. People are scared and the streets are empty, Boby Sander from the humanitarian aid organisation Food for the Hungry told the BBC. Since Friday, 15,000 people have been displaced from their homes and many are now staying in a school building in the centre of Port-au-Prince, Mr Sander said.

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