Over 2,400 people have been killed in Haiti since the start of 2023 amid rampant gang violence, including hundreds killed in lynchings by vigilante mobs, the UN said Friday.
The death toll comes after this week’s gang violence in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, left 30 locals dead and more than a dozen injured.
UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva, “Between January 1 and August 15 of this year, at least 2,439 people have been killed and a further 902 injured.
Furthermore, she said, “951 people have been kidnapped” during the same period.
She also warned that an increase in self-defense groups and popular justice movements was fueling more violence as outrage over the gang violence grew.
“Since April 24 up to mid-August, more than 350 people have been lynched by local people and vigilante groups,” she said, adding that of those, 310 were alleged gang members and one was a police officer. The remainders were members of the public.
Houses in Port-au-Prince’s Carrefour-Feuilles neighbourhood were set on fire in the attacks and two police officers also died, according to the National Human Rights Defense Network.
The neighborhood serves as a key location for the gangs, who rule over 80% of the capital of Haiti. Armed thefts, carjackings, rapes, and kidnappings for ransom are frequent violent crimes.
Authorities reported that about 5,000 inhabitants have left the area in recent days due to neighborhood unrest.
Shamdasani said, “Reports from Haiti this week have underscored the extreme brutality of the violence being inflicted on the population and the impact that it is having on their human rights”
She said that her boss, UN rights chief Volker Turk, was calling for urgent action to be taken on an appeal for a non-UN multinational force to be sent in “to support the Haitian police in addressing the grave security situation and restoring the rule of law”.
“The human rights of the Haitian people must be protected and their suffering alleviated,” he said.
Haiti has been plagued with years of intertwined political, security, and economic challenges
The situation has drastically worsened since President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in 2021, with gangs gaining a stronger foothold.