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It is looking increasingly scary that the national capital, Port-au-Prince is looking more like a battlefield than the seat of government. The security situation has deteriorated to the point that it’s now more numbing to just read off the casualties, rather than programs and policies of the government. Clashes between rival gangs in Cité Soleil have grown significantly. During the four days of gang fighting, there have been some 52 people killed, most of them rival gang members and a significant number of civilian casualties, to the tune of 110 injured, mostly people fleeing the warfare. The two main groups engaging in these senseless and baseless murders are the G-9 and G-Pep gangs. According to the interim Executive of Cite Soleil, Joël Janéus, there were young people dying who have nothing to do with the gangs and their clashing. He decried how he has been contacted by youth who plead with him for the violence to stop in their neighborhood but there’s so little he can do for them because the security forces are absent in the community, and faced with up-to-date automatic weapons, the gangs have the upper hand in what is going on. According to him, the police are absent from downtown Cité Soleil, but there are agents in Carrefour Duvivier, who try to help those who can at any safe space they can find. He further castigated those who are supplying these young people the ammunition that they’re using to kill each other and terrorizing an entire population. It is also hard to come up with the real figures of the casualties because each gang is burning the bodies of their victims. Admittedly nothing he’s even seen in Cité Soleil in his life, where there are no police, no judicial system, or any programs to provide an alternative to the youth in the community. As a result of this gang war, residents trapped in the area are now without water, food. An eyewitness to all that was going on expressed that he could see helplessness in the face of the security forces who could not do anything faced with the overwhelming show of sophisticated weaponry from the gangs. 

Once again, the UN mission in Haiti, the BINUH, in a tweet condemned these clashes between armed gangs that have crippled the nation and caused terror in areas of Bas Delmas, Croix-des-Missions, Santo, Tabarre, as well as in the commune of Cité Soleil, and called on all armed individuals to immediately stop their acts of violence, to allow free passage to emergency medical services and encourage the authorities to ensure the protection of the civilian population. The BINUH went on to say they met with the ombudsman and his team to discuss the security situation and subsequent human rights abuses committed by the gangs, as well as the actions that the ombudsman’s office plans to take with the authorities to monitor the implementation of the 205 recommendations endorsed during the universal periodic review on Monday, July 4. In an op-ed piece published July 6 in the Miami Herald, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Hemispheric Affairs, Brian Nichols, painted a picture of Haiti that has reached a critical point where at least 150 people have been killed during an intense wave of violence in Port-au-Prince and its surrounding areas as the gangs seek to enlarge their turf. Meanwhile, the United States government has announced an additional aid for US$48m to help address the security problem in the country.

In other news, S7H Global, one of the anchor companies in the Caracol Industrial Park has announced that they will be laying off some 4,000 employees from now till the end of the year, due to the global decline in economic activities, especially as the demands of goods for the US market dropped a whopping 45%. This number represents 3 full factories, as the main customers are no longer placing orders. The company said they will be transparent and equitable in the way they will undertake the layoffs, starting with asking people to voluntarily resign. The S&H Global manager who will be making these layoffs said he struggled over the years against years against natural disasters, cholera, the Covid-19 pandemic and various security issues and social unrest but was able to avoid layoffs and downsizing. According to sources close to this development, the announcement is a big blow to the nation’s economy as well as the livelihood of a lot of people. On average, textile subcontracting factories work 23 days a month for a total of 60 million gourdes in salaries (at 650 gourdes per day). The impending fear of a recession in the US, coupled with the security situation and other social issues have conspired to make this decision one that will not go down well, especially at this very critical moment. Just this past Wednesday, a container of raw materials for a factory in Caracol was diverted to Hinche. The textile subcontracting sector represents the country’s leading export item, by far, with amounts approaching one billion US dollars.

Dela Harlley

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