In the first week of summer, Haiti had already undergone a vaccine crisis, a fatal shootout, a destructive hurricane, and the assassination of the country’s president on July 7th. Haiti was already in the midst of other ongoing problems such as gang violence, kidnapping, and rising Covid infections, but the weeks that followed shifted the country’s course. We at Dare Humanity are continuing to serve our beneficiaries through the fallout of these events and we are not letting them cloud our mission: to advocate for an enhanced life for women, children and families who live in underserved communities.
When the Covid-19 pandemic became a worldwide issue, some countries were hit harder by the virus than others, though surprisingly, Haiti wasn’t as affected as most people thought it would be. Another side effect of the government’s instability and the violent gangs was a shooting in the capital city of Port au Prince that left at least 15 people dead. The Police Chief, Leon Charles, alleges that the shooting was provoked by the killing of a member of a group of disgruntled police officers called Fantom 509 and that the perpetrators of the attack were vengeful members of the group. This is another instance of violence that Haiti has experienced recently that could just act to lengthen the already long list of similar events, but instead is prompting some to speak out. For instance, Marie Rosy August Ducena of the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights says that Haiti is “in a situation where human rights are being denied and life is being trivialized… We cannot continue to count bodies every day.”
Given Port au Prince’s ongoing instability, unfortunately between 15-50% of residents of the capital city are facing food insecurity. With the Helping Hands program, we are providing food for families in Port au Prince twice a month so that they can stay healthy and fed even when the violence in the streets keeps them from leaving their homes.
Although the vaccine release and tragic shooting were somewhat controllable, the tropical storm that hit Haiti over the weekend of July 3rd was entirely unavoidable. Hurricane Elsa brought 70 mile per hour winds and showers of rain to the southern coast of Haiti, taking trees and roofs with it. Fortunately, communities like Sonyen, Deluge, and Port au Prince where our sponsored students go to school, were not in Hurricane Elsa’s path and able to avoid any serious damage.
Now, to end with surely the most shocking event of Haiti’s history, is the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. In an overnight attack on Wednesday, July 7th, a group of gunmen broke into the president’s home, ransacked his offices and bedroom before shooting him 12 times and speeding away. The Haitian ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, claimed that the attackers were “foreign mercenaries” masquerading as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents. That Wednesday evening, less than a day after the attack, a shootout took place in Port au Prince between police forces and the suspected “foreign mercenaries,” which ended with four of the assailants dead and two in custody.
Moïse was killed days after announcing the appointment of a new prime minister, Ariel Henry, though hours after the attack, the interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, announced that he is in charge of the country. With his newfound and self appointed position, Joseph has decided to place the country under a “state of siege,” meaning that Haiti is essentially under martial law for 15 days which gives police special accommodations to find the assassins, but may just cause even more fear for the citizens. New developments on the “new government” in Haiti can be found here.
Protests overwhelmed streets in Haiti upon the announcement of President Moïse's assassination with people looking for answers and some wanting to retaliate.
People expressed their lack of support for President Moïse and his activities, but as an organization, we do not stand for violence and we are truly heartbroken that such an event occured.
Image source: The Wall Street Journal - A protest against the president’s assassination in Cap-Haïtien; Photographer: Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters
Haiti’s political environment is turbulent to say the least, and this month has caused irreversible changes that will affect the future of the country, but it’s only the changes that are irrevocable, not their impact. Despite the crises affecting the country right now, we know the people of Haiti are resilient and hopeful for a better future. We are continuing our efforts to strengthen partnerships with our communities, provide food for families in need, and fund the education of our sponsored students. Stay connected to hear more about our work and ways you can help the people of Haiti stay safe, educated, and empowered.