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UN human rights expert warns of deteriorating situation in Haiti

A UN expert has expressed concerns over escalating gang violence in Haiti. 

American human rights lawyer and UN human rights expert on Haiti, William O’Neill has voiced alarm over the rapidly deteriorating situation in Port-au-Prince. "There’s a level of intensity and cruelty in the violence that is simply unprecedented in my experience in Haiti," said O'Neill. The UN expert has described the current state of affairs as "apocalyptic".

In the first three months of 2024 over 1,500 people have been killed. 

Gang rebellion started on 29 February and forced Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, to announce his resignation. Haiti has been without a president since the assassination of Jovenel Moïse in 2021. Currently, the Caribbean country is without any elected officials. 

O'Neill has expressed shock over the evaporation of the state in the face of gang rebellion, he says: "Here, I think what’s different is that the state is virtually absent … There is no state and that’s almost like a Hobbesian world where it’s really the survival of the fittest … and unfortunately the fittest right now are the gangs". 

The majority of the violence has been within Port-au-Prince, an estimated 90% of the capital is currently under the control of powerful gangs. 

According to the UN, over 53,000 people have fled Port-au-Prince. O'Neill has warned that if the violence spreads into the countryside neighbouring countries could see an exodus of refugees. 

Read more on the Guardian

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