First modification: 06/29/2021 – 04:12
The epicenter of the conflict is the Martissant neighborhood, in the south of the Haitian capital. This is where the international organization’s clinical center is located, which was attacked and which will now close for a week to try to protect its staff. This is the latest episode in a spiral of violence that has left more than 10,000 internally displaced people so far in June.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had to close one of the hospitals that operates in Port-au-Prince, specifically at the southern entrance to the city, in the Martissant neighborhood. The reason is that last Saturday, June 26, the clinical facilities were shot in the middle of a crossfire between two rival gangs.
“While MSF teams were treating patients, armed individuals fired several shots in the direction of the emergency center,” says a press release.
The attack did not leave people injured inside the emergency center, according to what the head of the MSF mission in Haiti, Alessandra Giudiceandrea, told EFE. However, the international organization suspended care at that health post for a week due to the risk in which the staff is.
🔴 “Some armed clashes occurred near the emergency center and MSF offices in Martissant🇭🇹, and staff had to protect themselves from stray bullets.
To protect ourselves, we have had to reduce our activities to the essentials “https://t.co/iotd5VbtP8
– Doctors Without Borders (@MSF_Espana) June 23, 2021
And it is that Martissant is one of the points where violence has escalated in Haiti. That neighborhood has become a war zone since the first day of June, when the Grand Ravine and Ti Bois gangs began to fight for control of that territory. This is part of a reconfiguration of gang alliances that has led to new territorial conflicts.
MSF assures that in just two days, from June 2 to 4, the health post they have in Martissant received 42 gunshot wounds. This without counting the 38 patients with gunshot wounds that they received in another nearby hospital, in the Tabarre neighborhood, in the same period.
That number of wounded is just a sample of the violence that Port-au-Prince has experienced. And in the middle, the civilians and the clinical personnel are remaining. Although last Saturday’s attack was the first time that armed gangs attacked the hospital directly.
But it is not the first attack on MSF staff. The organization reported that one of his employees was shot on May 25 in Tabarre, as he returned home. Although Moise rushed back to the hospital for care, he died inside the clinic. And at the end of February, the MSF hospital operating in the Drouillard neighborhood had to transfer 21 patients to the agency’s clinical center in Tabarre because they got caught up in a gang confrontation.
“At a time when we should be scaling up activities due to Covid-19 and other needs, we are struggling to keep our existing facilities open due to insecurity,” Giudiceandrea said in an MSF statement, asking all groups to “Respect the need for medical activities to continue.”
Between 8,550 and 17,000 inhabitants of Port-au-Prince have displaced in June
But the violence in Haiti’s capital has not only put clinical staff at risk. In fact, those most affected have been civilians. The same MSF maintains that the clashes to control the Martissant neighborhood forced more than 1,000 people to displace in the first week of June.
And those numbers only got worse throughout the month. Haitian authorities estimate that at least 8,550 people forcibly left their homes due to armed conflict and are temporarily living in eight makeshift camps in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, according to data from the National Migration Office (ONM).
@UNHaiti et les partenaires humanitaires travaillent with national and local authorities to support the aid of emergency needs.
More durable violence against violence is the best response and the unique solution for you to give permission for you to rent out the eux.@OCHAHaiti pic.twitter.com/ubP6GLR5yq
– Nations Unies Haïti (@UNHaiti) June 9, 2021
But international organizations assure that there are more displaced people. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) maintains that at least 17,000 people were internally displaced in the Haitian capital by clashes in various parts of the city, including Martissant. OCHA also adds that there are at least 95 different armed gangs in the Haitian capital.
Beyond the numbers, the crisis is reflected in the actions that the authorities have had to take. For example, on June 24, the Haitian government created a group to coordinate all ministries and assist internally displaced persons. The idea of the group is “to avoid duplication and to have greater cohesion between the different entities,” according to the Minister of Citizenship, Guy François, at a press conference.
Currently, both local authorities and international organizations are assisting the thousands of displaced people in multiple makeshift camps and schools. At least 1,500 Martissant residents are in the Carrefour sports center, which has become the main shelter for the displaced who fled that neighborhood.