The Spirals of Despair

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Thousands of Haitians took to the streets of the capital this week to demand protection against violent gangs terrorizing their neighborhoods, with the Caribbean country seeing a surge in murders and kidnappings in recent years, the Associated Press reported.

Protesters marched to the prime minister’s official residence in Port-au-Prince, where police dispersed the demonstrations using tear gas.

Many complained that the security situation has forced them to stay locked up in their homes, while others feared that their children would be kidnapped or killed by criminal groups.

Following the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, analysts estimated that gangs have seized control of up to 80 percent of the capital, killing, raping, and sowing terror in communities already suffering from dire poverty.

A United Nations report found that more than 1,600 people were killed from January to March, a nearly 30 percent increase compared with the last three months of 2022.

The UN’s children agency also recently announced an “alarming spike” in kidnappings, with nearly 300 confirmed cases so far this year, nearly three times the total for 2021.

The agency highlighted a rising trend of women and children being kidnapped for financial or strategic purposes. One prominent example is American nurse Alix Dorsainvil and her daughter, who were kidnapped last month.

They are currently being held captive, with kidnappers demanding a $1 million ransom.

Haitians also worry that the rise in abductions is creating even more poverty after families sell their homes and other belongings to pay the ransoms.

Meanwhile, Haiti is waiting for a decision from the UN Security Council over the deployment of an international armed force.

In October, Haiti’s leaders sought international armed forces to curb gang violence.

In July, Kenya offered to lead a multinational police force, but the Security Council has yet to vote on a resolution authorizing the mission. The United States expressed its support last week.

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