Haiti is Still Shaking… in Crisis

Haiti is Still Shaking… in Crisis

Haiti’s surge in gang violence and kidnappings is forcing aid organizations to rethink shipment routes, staff risks, and security costs – and to consider the ethical and safety implications of trusting leaders of armed gangs who say they can help. One of the leading news that kept the attention on how dangerous it can be to transport goods and services to affected areas in the southwestern part of the country was the kidnapping of 17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries in October 2021. Media reported that all missionaries kidnapped near Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, were released on December 16, 2021, by the “400 Mawozo” gang. Christian Aid Ministries, the hostages’ organization, asserted that those released are safe. 

Haiti is not the only country in the Region where organizations are reconsidering how they deal with solidarity. Brazil, Colombia, and Perú also present complications for humanitarian organizations. It can consist of negotiating with armed groups and gangs or accepting that staff may be put in more danger or that aid will not reach some of the people who need it most.   In Haiti, rampant gang violence has meant delays in getting help to more than half of the people affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake on August 14. That earthquake killed more than 2,200 people in the country’s southern peninsula and left thousands with no home in the country’s southwestern part. Disasters, political upheavals, and stark economic realities have driven many Haitians to seek opportunities abroad over the past decade. Still, the worsening gang violence has seen a recent surge in outward migration.

Gang control and kidnappings are just the tip of the iceberg. Social and political crises go deeper in Haitian society. Polycarpe Joseph, Director of House of Hope, one of our Global Ministries’ Partners in the country, shared that on February 7, 2022, Haiti was supposed to elect a new president to replace president Jovenel Moise. “Unfortunately, 7 months after the assassination of the president, democracy is still at half-mast in Haiti. Following a tweet from the U.S. Ambassador, the installation of the facto government headed by Dr. Ariel Henry as prime minister provoked an overall deterioration in the country’s state of affairs. The political situation is increasingly confused and uncertain. Leaders cannot find a common agreement to pull the country out of this ongoing crisis. Each group or leader has its “plan” and its “agreement” and would like to impose it on the rest of the people. Each leader has friends in the international community and uses those strings to gain muscle at every discussion. Mistrust, corruption, and misunderstanding are natural barriers that prevent them from prioritizing the collective interest over their personal interest. On the social level, the population has been left to itself. Families are at a loss where to turn; insecurity is gaining more and more ground. Most people who have the means fled the country to other more lenient skies.”

In the meantime, Polycarpe reported accomplishments with the Food Emergency Program in the Grand’Anse Department in the western part of the country. Through the last three months of 2021, they provided daily food and first aid supplies for 400 victims affected by the recent earthquake in Haiti. That is to say, House of Hope has worked delivering 96,000 food rations through 2021 and kept some resources to continue that endeavor in the first months of 2022. Products were stored secretly in a place not far from the meeting place of families in the community. They hired the service of a motorcycle and a pick up to transport the products. House of Hope staff tried not to raise the attention of gangs that are still blocking immediate access to the western part of the country. House of Hope is taking all of those measures as violence, and political turmoil continues affecting Haitians’ lives in the country. 

As this situation continues to unfold, our Partners instructed us to put any emergency funding to a transitory halt through the beginning of the year. They need to evaluate how to best serve those families in the Grand’anse without putting their personnel at risk. Global Ministries continues to be attentive to the indications of our Partners, to accompany them the best way possible, and call churches to keep on praying for Haiti in times of need and crisis. To accompany our partners, CONASPEH and House of Hope, you can make a financial contribution to support their ministry of accompaniment to victims and families.  Information on sending gifts to Global Ministries online, by check in the mail, or by phone can be found at www.globalministries.org/give.