• The U.N. children’s agency said that gang violence in Haiti has displaced more than 300,000 children since March.
  • The spike in violence, including killings and kidnappings, began in February with a series of coordinated attacks on key government infrastructure that eventually led Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign in April.
  • The announcement comes days after hundreds of Kenyans arrived in Haiti to help rescue the country from the tight hold of armed gangs.

Gang violence in Haiti has displaced more than 300,000 children since March, the U.N. children’s agency said Tuesday as the Caribbean country struggles to curb killings and kidnappings.

Children are more than half of the nearly 580,000 people who have become homeless in the last four months. The spike in violence began in late February after a series of coordinated attacks on key government infrastructure eventually led Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign in April.

“The humanitarian catastrophe unfolding before our eyes is taking a devastating toll on children,” Catherine Russell, UNICEF’s executive director, said in a statement. “Displaced children are in desperate need of a safe and protective environment, and increased support and funding from the international community.”

FEDS STOP MASSIVE NUMBER OF HAITIAN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS LANDING BY BOAT IN THIS RED STATE

Gangs now control at least 80% of the capital Port-au-Prince and the key roads leading in and out of it, with more than 2,500 people killed or injured across the country in the first three months of the year, according to the U.N.

A server wearing blue rubber gloves ladles soup into a container as child in line for food looks up.

A server ladles soup into a container as children line up to receive food at a shelter for families displaced by gang violence, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph, File)

Many children are living in makeshift shelters, including schools that are in poor hygienic conditions, placing them at risk of disease. School closures are also leading to a higher dropout rate.

The agency said children in Haiti are being forced to join violent gangs to survive as they often lack access to food, health care, clean water and sanitation. Displaced children and teenagers in Haiti also face a higher risk of sexual assault, exploitation, abuse and family separation, according to UNICEF.

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The announcement comes days after hundreds of Kenyans arrived in Haiti to help rescue the country from the tight hold of armed gangs. The deployment received mixed reactions after a U.N. peacekeeping mission years ago introduced cholera in the country and was tainted with sexual allegations.

On Monday, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jonathan Finer met with Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille to discuss the initial deployment of the U.N.-backed mission to Haiti. Finer reminded Conille of the United States’ strong support for accountability and oversight mechanisms as part of the mission.

Haiti is also bracing for a strong hurricane season, which started earlier than usual. A tropical storm watch was in effect for Haiti’s southern coast as Hurricane Beryl moved into the Caribbean Sea.

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