90 dead, 120 injured in three weeks of gang clashes in Haiti
Armed forces check two men who were riding a motorcycle for weapons, at the area of ​​state offices of Port-au-Prince, Haiti (Photo: AP)

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) — The United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) says at least 94 residents were killed, more than 120 were injured by gunfire and 12 others disappeared in less than three weeks of fighting between rival gangs in the north and west of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

The BINUH has released a report on the deadly wave of violence that broke out between April 24 and May 16 this year involving two gang coalitions which fight each other to take control over specific areas of the communes of Cité Soleil, Croix-des-Bouquets and Tabarre

It said its investigation established that, in less than three weeks, at least 94 residents were killed, more than 120 were injured by gunfire and 12 others disappeared.

"In addition, at least 96 gang members were killed or wounded. Dozens of cases of sexual violence were also reported. Besides, nearly 16,000 people were forced to flee their homes to take refuge in make-shift sites or in the home of relatives."

BINUH said that armed with assault rifles, machetes and gas cans, gangs spared no one.

"Women and children, as young as one year old, were executed and their bodies burned. Young teenagers, accused of spying for the opposite side, were shot in public spaces. Rape against women and girls, some of whom were less than 10 years old, was used as a weapon to terrorise and take revenge on the local populations living in neighbourhoods controlled by rival gangs," BINUH said.

According to the report, the criminal groups responsible for these acts of violence, known as "Chen Mechan" and "400 Mawozo", with the support of their respective allies, the "G9 in Family and Allies" and the "G-Pèp", showed their capacity to launch coordinated and simultaneous attacks in several neighbourhoods of the capital.

The report also said the coalitions between gangs are not new in Port-au-Prince as they had become a prominent issue during the Administration of President Jovenel Moïse. Moïse was assassinated on July 7 last year and several former Colombian army officers have been arrested in connection with his murder. However, Haitian authorities have not charged anyone here with his death.

The BINUH said that the recent outbreak of armed violence in Cite Soleil, Croix-des-Bouquets and Tabarre shows that they persist and have even intensified with the probable implication of political and economic actors already involved back then.

Against this backdrop, the report remarks that although the Haitian police rapidly carried out operations within the affected areas, it could only adopt a reactive posture to curb armed violence, due to its lack of means and the high level of armament among gangs.

"While police investigations were promptly opened into the abuses committed against the population, the judiciary has not yet taken the necessary steps to initiate judicial proceedings. This leads to believe that these crimes are likely to remain unpunished."

The report contains a series of recommendations addressed to the police, the judiciary and the authorities responsible for providing support to victims, particularly to victims of sexual violence.

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