Haiti-hell: Slum women raped, widowed, millions face food-insecurity, funds stolen


Haiti appears hell to the slum women.

An AFP report headlined “Raped, widowed, homeless: Haiti’s slum women abandoned to gangs” begins with the following description:

“As the first bursts of gunfire rang out, the women from La Saline slum grabbed their kids and fled for cover.

“Shootings are common here, but this time, there was no outrunning the full-on battle between five rival gangs in the heart of the Haitian capital.

“The turf war that broke out last November lasted 14 hours and ended with more than two dozen people dead, women and girls gang-raped and scores of dwellings razed to the ground.”

The report by Amelie Baron said:

“There is not much left of Lovely Saint-Pierre’s home, aside from some slabs of concrete and two sheets of rusty metal which provide scant protection from the blazing sun as she recounts the nightmare that began eight months ago.

“‘When the shooting started, my husband stayed behind,’ the 32-year-old said matter of factly. ‘We just have walls made of sheet metal. The bullet went straight through and killed him.’

The Port-au-Prince, July 12, 2019 datelined report said:

“Around 5,000 people live in La Saline, which has long been plagued by turf wars between gangs battling for control of one of the largest marketplaces in Port-au-Prince.

“A United Nations report on the November violence said at least 26 people were killed and 12 reported missing. Haitian human rights groups put the death toll at 71.

“The horror of the slum’s denizens was magnified when the gangs decided to follow up on the gun battle by setting fire to their meager dwellings.

“‘They occupied our neighborhood for three days. I don’t know why and I have no idea why they decided to burn everything,’ said Valioa Jean-Charles, 42.

“‘We called the fire department but when they showed up the gangs opened fire on them, so all our houses burned down,’ she said.

“Her husband dead, her tiny shop a smoking ruin, Lovely Saint-Pierre found herself destitute.

“‘I left my three older kids with my sister. I can’t live with her myself, she has a husband and I am older than her,’ she said, trying to explain her plight. Instead, she has spent the past eight months sleeping in a nearby market.”

The report said about the rape-victims’ sufferings:

“Among the survivors of the massacre are 11 girls and women who were gang-raped, some in front of their own young children, human rights groups said. They have received no medical support or psychological counseling.

“La Saline and other slum districts in the heart of the capital are regularly subjected to gang shoot-outs. The underfunded police do nothing, even though bursts of automatic gunfire erupt less than a kilometer from the presidential palace.

“The residents of these poor areas are increasingly left to fend for themselves as fellow countrymen ignore their plight.

“‘Some people simply refuse to consider these people, who are from a lower social class, as citizens. Since it’s a reality that doesn’t affect them directly, they don’t worry about it,’ said Evelyne Trouillot, a writer and member of the Gathering for a Dignified Haiti movement.”

The AFP report added:

“The inhabitants of La Saline push back against stereotypes held by many who are better off that they are all somehow affiliated with violent gangs.

“‘I’ve nothing to do with these gangs, neither me nor my son,’ said Josette Magloire who lost her 24-year-old son in the massacre. ‘When I think about what I’ve lost, I feel so bad.’

“‘They have destroyed my life,’ she said.”

3.6 million people face food insecurity

According to an Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) conducted by the World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with the National Food Security Coordination (CNSA), 3.6 million of people in Haiti are suffering food insecurity of which 1.5 million are facing a level of acute food insecurity.

The EFSA found: 81 percent of the households were affected by the 2015 drought and 89 percent said they lost their agricultural production. Seventy-two percent reported missing more than 80 percent of their output. Small producers are the most vulnerable population.

Since then, drought conditions in parts of Haiti have limited livelihood opportunities, notably agriculture, livestock activities and exacerbated acute food insecurity.

Moreover, the political instability contributed to the relative weakness of the Haitian currency and resulted in increasing imported food prices, making it more difficult for vulnerable households to afford enough to eat.

According to a study released on March by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the deterioration of food security in Haiti is likely to continue in 2019, mainly due to the persistence of the phenomenon El Niño which accentuates the effects of drought on agricultural production.

2.6 million people in rural areas face food insecurity

A recent UN study warned that over 2.6 million Haitians in rural areas are facing food insecurity. This figure has doubled between 2018 and 2019.

The present situation is not encouraging, and some experts expect it to worsen in coming months, as a response to population growth, climate change, and unsatisfactory government policies, among other causes, that have a huge impact on agricultural output.

Peasant and former Deputy Paul Andre Garçonnet told Prensa Latina that all studies they have done since 1986 to date proved that Haiti is able to produce rice, be self-sufficient and export it in large quantities.

“We currently have a starving peasantry that does not have the capacity to boost its own lives and the lives of organizations, but it is part of the Government’s strategies,” he said.

The UN research also warned that some two million people are facing up a ‘crisis phase’ and 571,000 an ’emergency phase’.

Funds allocated to non-existent government offices

A report by the Citizen’s Observatory for the Institutionalization of Democracy in Haiti (OCID) revealed that currently about US$87,500 are being allocated to non-existent parliamentary offices.

The organization, which follows the legislative work in the country and publishes weekly account of lawmaking activities, did a survey 10 Haitian counties between March 15 and 25, and analyzed 83 of the 116 Lower House districts represented in the country, as well as the 29 Senate districts.

The study found: Of the 83 Lower House offices, only 57 were identifiable and 45 of them were fully operational. In the case of the Senate 19 of the 29 offices were operational.

Each lawmaker receives about US$2,625 on a monthly basis, while senators receive about US$3,125, according to the report.

It is not the first time that the management of resources and the excess of perks for lawmakers in Haiti has been in the media.

Recently, the Superior Court of Accounts requested documentation related to the embezzlement of Petrocaribe funds, a Venezuelan energy cooperation program, aimed at addressing the country’s problems.

Just under-60 percent of Haiti’s population lives in poverty.

Haiti still suffers from major infrastructural damage caused by hard-hitting hurricanes and earthquakes over the past 12 years.

However, its political corruption has also been implicated in keeping the country in continual economic and political dysfunction.

For months, protesters have demanded justice in the alleged irregularities in the Petrocaribe program amid increased inflation.


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