Haiti is grappling with widespread gang violence
Haiti is grappling with widespread gang violence, severe poverty and a weak government AFP

With gang violence hitting an all-time high in Haiti, United Nations (UN) envoy Maria Isabel Salvador said Monday that only elections can "restore democratic institutions" in the country.

Salvador said the "security situation on the ground continues to deteriorate as growing gang violence plunge[s] the lives of the people of Haiti into disarray and major crimes are rising sharply to new record highs," UN News reported.

She recalled that the Secretary General of the High Transitional Council was abducted during the daytime by gang members, dressed as police officers, on Oct. 18.

The UN envoy said there have been "killings, sexual violence, including collective rape and mutilation, continue to be used by gangs every day and in the context of ineffective service support for victims, or a robust justice response."

Salvador stressed the need for elections, saying that "democracy and the rule of law can form the basis from which Haiti can progress towards development and growth."

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell told the UN council on the same day that children were getting injured or killed in the crossfire, adding that some of them were forcefully recruited into the gangs. Women and girls, on the other hand, were facing gender-based and sexual violence.

In the wake of surging violence from gangs, which are controlling a big chunk of the country, the UN has given a green signal to a Kenya-led mission of deploying 1,000 police officers in Haiti to support the local police force.

The deployment will last a year, and the 1,000 security officers will support Haiti's national police force, as it does not have enough resources or funding to ensure the safety of the Latin American country's 11 million citizens.

The UN envoy shared that the approval of Kenya-led police officers has raised expectations of millions of Haitians at home and abroad.

"A glimmer of hope was cast towards finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel that is not an oncoming train," she explained. "Resources need to be committed to allow the UN to run programs and projects to support the environment in which the MSS will operate, including UNDP's basket funds in Justice, Elections, and support for the Haitian National Police."

Ahead of the UN Security Council's announcement, U.S. President Joe Biden stressed the need to authorize the deployment of a multilateral force to Haiti, where more than 2,400 people have so far been killed due to gang violence.

The national police reported 1,239 homicides between July 1 to Sept. 30, while in the same period, over 700 people were kidnapped, as per VOA.

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