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UN warns of spike in killings and kidnappings across Haiti as deployment of armed force stalls

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — More than 2,300 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in Haiti from October to December last year, a nearly 10% increase compared with the previous quarter, according to a new U.N. report released Thursday.

The number of killings alone spiked to more than 1,600 during the period, with officials blaming the vacuum created by the death of a powerful gang leader known as Andrice Isca for unleashing territorial fights in the Cite Soleil slum of Port-au-Prince that killed and injured nearly 270 people over roughly two weeks in late November. Isca has also been identified as Iskar Andrice and Iscar Andris.

GANG VIOLENCE IS SURGING TO UNPRECEDENTED LEVELS IN HAITI, UN ENVOY SAYS

Authorities said fights occurred within a powerful gang federation known as G-9 Family and Allies, which also targeted an opposition gang coalition called G-Pep.

“In addition to the loss of human life, the humanitarian toll of the clashes was disastrous: over 1,000 people were forced to abandon their homes and take refuge in nearby areas,” stated the report by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, known as BINUH.

New UN report cites territorial disputes between gangs in the wake of a powerful leader’s death, as the driving force in upsurge in violence.

Officials said at least 262 gang members died in the last quarter, but noted the losses were barely felt given that “the ease of recruitment among the poor populations living under their control enabled them to rapidly replenish their ranks.”

The report also found that nearly 700 people were kidnapped from October to December, an increase of nearly 20% compared with the previous quarter.

“No social category has been spared: from street vendors and farmers…to high-level professionals, including doctors and civil servants,” according to the report.

Gangs also continue to rape women and girls, sometimes recording themselves and posting the videos on social media “with a view to humiliate their victims,” the report stated.

Children continue to be targeted by gangs, with more than 50 killed in the last quarter, including a 10-year-old who encountered members of the Grand Ravine gang.

“After questioning the boy, they accused him of being a police informant and executed him on the spot,” the report said.

Overall, more than 310,000 people have been left homeless in Haiti because of gang violence, including some 170,000 children, according to UNICEF. In addition, more than 8,400 people were killed, injured or kidnapped in Haiti overall last year, more than double the number reported in 2022.

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BINUH recommended in its report that the international community accelerate the deployment of a foreign armed force, but it’s unlikely one would arrive soon in Haiti, which first requested the force more than a year ago.

Last week, a court in Kenya barred the U.N.-backed deployment of police officers to Haiti, saying it was unconstitutional.

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