Haiti: Türk says situation “untenable”, urges swift and decisive action

Geneva, 6 March, 2024.- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk today urged the international community to act swiftly and decisively to prevent Haiti’s further descent into chaos.

Last weekend’s mass prison breakout has been described by Haitian officials as a lethal threat to national security, Türk said. More than 4,500 inmates are now known to have escaped, among them prominent gang members as well as those arrested in connection with the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. The break followed coordinated gang action against national institutions with the stated aim of bringing down the Government.

“This situation is beyond untenable for the people of Haiti,” the Human Rights Chief said. “Since the beginning of the year, a staggering 1,193 people have been killed, and 692 others injured by gang violence.

“The health system is on the brink of collapse. Hospitals often do not have the capacity to treat those arriving with gunshots wounds. Schools and business are closed, and children are increasingly used by gangs. Economic activity is asphyxiated as gangs impose restrictions on people’s movements. Haiti’s biggest provider of drinking water has stopped deliveries. At least 313 000 people are currently internally displaced.”

Ahead of today’s Security Council meeting, Türk called once again for the urgent deployment, with no further delay, of the Multinational Security Support Mission in Haiti (MSS), to support the National Police and bring security to the Haitian people, under conditions that comply with international human rights norms and standards.

“The reality is that, in the current context, there is no realistic alternative available to protect lives,” the High Commissioner said. “We are simply running out of time.”

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