ua en ru

Haiti crisis: Gangs uprising, besieged capital, embassy evacuations

Haiti crisis: Gangs uprising, besieged capital, embassy evacuations Photo: Mass gangs uprising in Haiti (Getty Images)

Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince has been besieged after armed gangs uprising against the acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry. The United States, EU, and other nations are evacuating their diplomatic facilities. Meanwhile, the situation in the country is deteriorating.

What's happening in Haiti and what caused the escalation - read below on RBC-Ukraine.

Sources: The Hill, CNN, The Guardian, and DW.

What's happening in Haiti

Unrest in the country began in late February after Haiti's acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry flew to Kenya to coordinate the deployment of foreign forces to combat gangs. The gangs declared war on the prime minister, paralyzing life in the capital and demanding Henry's resignation.

According to media reports, the gangs currently control most of Haiti's capital, as well as transportation links in the rest of the country.

Gangs attacks on government and infrastructure targets continue within the country. On March 4, the Haitian authorities declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in the capital after gangs seized two prisons and released around 4,000 inmates, including those involved in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.

By March 9, the most powerful gangs in Haiti had united and launched a series of attacks on government institutions, police stations, the Ministry of Interior building, and the presidential palace in the capital, Port-au-Prince. About a dozen attackers were killed in the clashes. Later, the police stated that the attack on the presidential palace had been repelled.

This is why the country's prime minister couldn't return from his trip abroad.

Embassy evacuations

As CNN reported, the United States and other diplomatic missions have started evacuating personnel from Haiti as the violent unrest in the capital of the Caribbean island continues to escalate.

A Pentagon spokesperson told the media that the evacuation of American personnel took place at night using helicopters. The Guardian reported that the US decided to send a Marine Corps unit to Haiti for this purpose.

"The US Embassy in Haiti remains open. Heightened gang violence in the neighborhood near US embassy compounds and near the airport led to the State Department's decision to arrange for the departure of additional embassy personnel. All arriving and departing passengers work for the US government," the statement said.

The German and European Union representations in Port-au-Prince also evacuated diplomatic personnel, including ambassadors. According to the media, among the passengers of the evacuation flight were the German Ambassador and the EU Ambassador Stefano Gatto.

A statement by the EU embassy in Haiti published on Sunday stated that they temporarily closed their offices and reduced their presence in the country.

"We will return as soon as security conditions allow," the statement said.

Haiti international airport closed

CNN reports that Haiti's international airport is closed over danger, while its main container port terminal, managed by Caribbean Port Services, was attacked and looted on March 8.

Meanwhile, the airspace of the Dominican Republic is closed to Haiti. However, sources told the media that the Dominican authorities made a rare exception, allowing a small commercial helicopter to fly from its territory to Port-au-Prince and back, making at least two rapid consecutive flights. Because of the small size of the helicopter, the organizers of the trip had to reject several requests to join the flight. Overall, about a dozen people were evacuated from Haiti, the source added.

At the same time, another source familiar with the situation said that at least 12 evacuation helicopter flights had been conducted in Port-au-Prince over the past three days, all evacuating diplomatic and humanitarian personnel. However, gunfire heard near the departure of the last flight on Sunday cast doubt on the advisability of continuing evacuation flights.

What's next

A former police officer and current leader of the G9 alliance gangs, Jimmy "Barbecue" Chérizier, says that he will continue his efforts aimed at overthrowing the government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and has threatened "a civil war that will end in genocide" if the prime minister does not resign.

The US Department of the Treasury has imposed sanctions against Chérizier.

Overall, the International Organization for Migration has estimated that the unrest in Haiti has led to the forced displacement of over 360,000 residents of the country.

Media reports indicate that apart from the increasing danger, the availability of products in stores is decreasing, and there are disruptions in electricity and communication services.

This also affects the distribution of necessary goods by humanitarian organizations. Because of the instability, the World Food Programme has suspended its maritime shipments to Port-au-Prince.

According to UN Secretary-General spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, the country's healthcare system is "on the brink of collapse," as many medical centers have been forced to reduce their activities due to violence and shortages of staff and medications.

The Hill reports that currently, the Prime Minister of Haiti cannot return to his country due to the civil war threat from the gangs.

It is believed that he is currently in Puerto Rico after the Dominican Republic refused to allow his plane to land.

It is expected that today the Caribbean Community (a regional bloc of 25 countries working on economic integration, security, and social development) will convene an emergency meeting on the crisis that has escalated in Haiti.