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Haiti’s crime rate more than doubles in a year

<i>Richard Pierrin/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>Police officers patrol a neighborhood amid gang-related violence in downtown Port-au-Prince on April 25.
AFP via Getty Images
Richard Pierrin/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers patrol a neighborhood amid gang-related violence in downtown Port-au-Prince on April 25.

By Richard Roth and Hira Humayun, CNN

Haiti’s crime rate has more than doubled since last year, as the Caribbean island nation faces widespread insecurity and gang violence, new data has revealed.

More than 1,600 incidents including homicide, rape, kidnapping, and lynchings were reported in the first quarter of 2023, up from 692 during the same period last year, according to data collected by the Haitian National Police and the UN.

Last month was the highest incidence rate since 2005.

The UN’s Special Representative for Haiti, María Isabel Salvador, warned of increasingly violent armed gangs vying for control of neighborhoods in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and added that many residents have taken matters into their own hands.

More than a dozen people were lynched by a crowd in Haitian capital Port-au-Prince on Monday, on suspicion of being gang members, according to authorities.

Video from Reuters and AFP showed burning and charred bodies with tires around them, and crowds forming near the area. Residents who spoke to Reuters and AFP on camera said they believed the victims were gang members.

Before the killing, Haitian National Police had stopped and searched the victims in a minibus in the neighborhood of Canape-Vert, seizing weapons and other equipment, according to a statement from the Haitian National Police.

“More than a dozen individuals riding on board this vehicle were unfortunately lynched by members of the population,” the statement said.

Gangs control wide swathes of Port-Au-Prince, plaguing residents with extreme violence as Haitians also grapple with extreme poverty and a humanitarian crisis.

The Caribbean nation has been thrown into chaos over the past year by relentless anti-government protests, rampant kidnappings and a recent resurgence of deadly cholera.

Salvador warned that children are suffering the consequences of the country’s instability, adding that over the last three months, school children have been hit by bullets while sitting in their classrooms and kidnapped while being dropped off at school.

Last October, Haiti’s government and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the international community to consider deploying forces to Haiti to address growing humanitarian and security crises in the country.

On Wednesday, Salvador emphasized the urgent need for international specialized forces to deploy, warning that instability in Haiti could spill over to other countries in the region.

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Sahar Akbarzai contributed reporting.

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