A Man in Violence-Ravaged Haiti
A man walks past the body of a person who was among a dozen killed in the street by gang members, in Pétionville, Port-au-Prince, Haiti AFP

Haiti needs 4,000 to 5,000 international police officers to address the "catastrophic" gang violence, which is targeting important figures as well as vital institutions like hospitals, schools, and banks, according to a U.N. rights expert.

William O'Neill, an expert for the conflict-wracked Caribbean nation, said Thursday the number of police officers required last year was between 1,000 and 2,000, adding that the number has more than doubled now.

Speaking at a news conference, while launching a U.N. Human Rights Office report, he stressed on the urgent need for action to address the "cataclysmic" conditions in Haiti, where corruption, impunity and inadequate governance combined with escalating gang violence is impacting law severely, AP News reported.

The report presented by O'Neill consists of data from the last five months until February. He disclosed that gangs continue to recruit and exploit -- both boys and girls. Shockingly, some children have been murdered for attempting to flee from their control.

Furthermore, gangs are using sexual violence "to brutalize, punish and control people," according to the report. It also highlighted instances of women being raped during gang assaults in communities, "in many cases after seeing their husbands killed in front of them."

Last year, gang violence saw a notable rise with 4,451 killed and 1,668 injuries. The numbers surged even further up to March this year, reaching 1,554 deaths and 826 injuries.

The human rights report emphasized the urgent need for the deployment of a multinational security mission to support Haiti's police in stopping the violence and restoring the rule of law.

The report also mentioned that the airport closure has placed approximately 1.4 million Haitians at risk of famine.

Additionally, the number of individuals displaced from their homes has risen significantly from 50,000 to at least 362,000. "I would say given the last three to four weeks, we're probably close to 400,000 if not over that," the U.N. envoy said.

Haiti asked for international help to fight against the gangs in October 2022 and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for the same last July.

"We're still waiting and every day lost means more people die, and more women and girls get raped, and more people flee their homes," O'Neill said. "So, the sooner the better."

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