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Gang Violence In Haiti Has Displaced Over 300,000 Children, UN Report Says

UN officials have described the situation in Haiti as 'cataclysmic'

Gang Violence In Haiti Has Displaced Over 300,000 Children, UN Report Says

Ongoing violence and instability in Haiti has displaced more than 300,000 children, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Since March, one child has been displaced every minute, with an estimated three million children now in need of humanitarian assistance, UNICEF reports.

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

Earlier this year, UN officials described the situation in Haiti as “cataclysmic” as warring factions of criminal gangs launched coordinated attacks throughout the country. These gangs targeted key government facilities, including police stations, prisons, and other sites in the capital Port-au-Prince, such as the main port and airport.

Often, children are forces into gangs and armed groups — a violation of international law — and used as lookouts, or “antennas,” as they are known locally, to facilitate kidnappings and robberies, according to a UN report from March.

UNICEF warns that displaced children in Haiti face heightened risks of violence, exploitation, abuse, and family separation. Disruptions to essential services such as healthcare, clean water, and sanitation is driving susceptibility diseases like cholera.

For several years, Haiti has faced an increase in political turmoil, largely attributable to corruption, poor governance and surging gang violence, which have deteriorated living conditions for local residents.

The most recent crisis began in 2021 after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse resulted in a power vacuum that was filled by Haiti’s unpopular prime minister Ariel Henry, who agreed to resign after a transitional government was brokered by allied nations, including the U.S.

After Haiti failed to hold elections multiple times, protests against Henry broke out. When he announced last year that elections would be postposed again — this time, until 2025 — armed groups escalated the violence.

“The needs in Haiti continue to grow, alongside the dangers for children,” Russell said, adding that everyone has a role to play in ensuring children are protected.

“Children should not be paying with their lives and their futures for a crisis created by adults,” she said.

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