The bulk of recent homicides in Haiti’s capital are tied to gang warfare, a UN official visiting the Caribbean nation said on Friday.
In an interview with reporters, Ivan Simonovic of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said he learned this from meetings with Haitian police officials and Haitian Justice Minister Jean Renel Sanon.
“They were saying: ‘Wait and see, autumn will be quieter,’” Simonovic said. “They didn’t seem to be worried very much. Their explanation was focused on gang wars.”
A recent report by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti said July was the most violent month since the January 2010 earthquake when UN personnel and police recorded 134 murders, compared with an average of 99 murders per month from March to July. There were only 75 during the same period last year.
The same study noted that the spike in homicides coincided with a decline in kidnappings. The number of kidnappings dropped to 10 a month from March to July this year, compared to 14 during the same period the previous year.
While the homicide rate in Port-au-Prince is lower than that of other Caribbean cities, crime has recently become a major issue.
The UN set up a peacekeeping force in Haiti in 2004 following the overthrow of then-Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.