• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Anarchy in Haiti as authorities extend emergency declaration

Anarchy in Haiti as authorities extend emergency declaration

A state of emergency declared in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, to contain armed gangs has been extended.

To lessen the violent gang attacks that have immobilised Port-au-Prince, in a bitter struggle for political dominance, the Haitian government announced that it will prolong the state of emergency and the curfew at night.

The national police are unable to control the violence with a limited number of staff members and resources, thus gangs have continued to target police stations and other state institutions at night despite the original three-day curfew being announced over the weekend.

According to Al Jazeera, the attacks started a week ago, right after the troubled prime minister, Ariel Henry, decided to hold general elections in mid-2025 while in Guyana for a conference of Caribbean leaders. The gangs took control of Haiti’s two largest jails, liberating over 4,000 prisoners, and setting fire to police stations and the country’s main international airport, which is still closed.

Henry had gone to Kenya during that period to advocate for deploying an East African police force supported by the UN to assist in fighting gangs in his nation. However, given the escalating violence in Haiti, a court declared in January that the deployment was unlawful. As a result, it was uncertain if the force would deploy.

As armed factions besieged the international airport on Tuesday, Henry was compelled to arrive there and make his way back to the United States.

The recent gang attacks have claimed the lives of dozens of people, including multiple police officers. Approximately 300,000 Haitians have lost their homes to gang warfare in recent years, and over 15,000 more have been rendered homeless as a result of the instability.

There were rumours that on Thursday, criminals stole food-filled shipping containers from Port-au-Prince’s main port, which sparked worries that supplies in the city and other locations would run out soon.

In a statement, Caribbean Port Services, the port’s operator, stated that it was halting all activities due to “malicious acts of sabotage and vandalism.”

On Thursday, there were reports of gunfire in certain areas of Port-au-Prince, and some areas were blocked by burning tyres as protesters called for new leaders for the nation in turmoil. While businesses and schools remained closed, certain neighbourhoods saw a return to peace, with some banks and retailers operating on a restricted schedule.

Since the start of the gang attacks last week, Henry has refrained from speaking to the media.