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Ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Haiti

April 5, 2024

UNITED NATIONS, CMC – The United Nations migration agency is warning about the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Haiti, as a siege imposed by heavily armed gangs on the capital Port-au-Prince stretched into a second month.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said that the surge of violence since February this year has reached “unprecedented levels,” resulting in rampant food insecurity and multiple displacements.

As the French-speaking Caribbean country grapples with this unparalleled crisis, IOM said families continue to struggle to secure even the most basic necessities, as desperation exacerbates.

“While assistance provision was easier during the aftermath of earthquakes, today, it is an increasingly daunting task,” said Philippe Branchat, head of IOM in Haiti.

“Humanitarian staff, including our own, are facing unparalleled security challenges, balancing the imperative to assist others with the stark realities of personal risk and displacement.”

The IOM said the crisis extends its reach far beyond the confines of Port-au-Prince, affecting communities across Haiti and leaving over 360,000 people displaced nationwide.

It said for the estimated 100,000 internally displaced people living in temporary sites, conditions are deplorable, amplifying the depths of suffering.

IOM said their needs include access to food, healthcare, water, psychological support, and hygiene facilities.

It said its psychosocial team has encountered cases of suicide tendencies, “which once was a taboo topic, but is now becoming more commonly disclosed, especially among displaced populations.”

The lack of economic opportunities, coupled with a collapsing health system and shuttered schools, casts “a shadow of despair, driving many to contemplate migration as their sole viable recourse,” according to the IOM.

However, for most Haitians, the prospect of regular migration remains “an insurmountable hurdle, leaving irregular migration as their only semblance of hope,” the agency reported.

Despite the worsening security situation, IOM said 13,000 migrants were forcibly returned to Haiti by neighbouring countries in March, 46 per cent more than the previous month.

Nearly 3,000 of them have received humanitarian assistance upon arrival, with an additional 1,200 migrants benefiting from psychosocial support, according to IOM, noting that together with its partners, they are delivering assistance to the areas where it is most needed.

A woman and her child, who was born in the tent in which they sit. There are 600 families now living at a former school in downtown Port-au-Prince. (UN Photo)

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