UN: The arrival of illegal weapons from the US multiplies the violence in Haiti
Haiti is going through its worst security crisis in decades, with weapons – coming mostly from the US – increasingly numerous and powerful in the hands of criminal gangs that use violence to gain control of the country, the UN denounced today. “The latest uptick in firearms seizures, along with intelligence and law enforcement reports, suggests that firearms trafficking between the United States and Haiti is increasing,” reports the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in a report released this Friday in Vienna. “All indicators of insecurity, from homicides to sexual violence and kidnappings to police killings, are increasing,” adds the report, titled “Haiti’s Criminal Markets: Mapping Firearms Trafficking Trends and drugs”.
The document notes that firearms smuggling is fueling violence, while the country remains a transit point for drugs such as cocaine and authorities appear overwhelmed by the situation. Haiti has been immersed in the crisis for years, a situation that the assassination of then-President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 at the hands of mercenaries, mostly Colombians, has only aggravated. The current Haitian government has repeatedly called for an international military force to be sent to the country since October to combat the armed gangs. Homicides, kidnappings, and displacements are skyrocketing in the country, which is suffering the worst humanitarian and human rights emergency in decades stresses the UNODC.
Homicides have doubled from 2019 to 2,183 last year, while kidnappings have gone from 78 in 2019 to almost 1,400 in 2022. “Haiti has porous borders -with 1,771 kilometers of coastline and 392 kilometers of land border with the Dominican Republic- that test the capacity of the security forces, which lack sufficient resources and personnel, and which in turn are an objective of the armed bands”, states the document. In addition, the violence of the armed groups aggravates the situation of the cholera outbreak, increasing food insecurity and causing the displacement of thousands of people.