UN Says Haiti's Unrest Disrupts Hospitals, Orphanages, and Schools

The unrest in Haiti has harmed hospitals and orphanages and has kept about two million students from school, according to the UN, as many continue to demand that President Jovenel Moïse step down.

United Nations (UN) spokesperson Stephane Djuarric told the Associated Press that there has been a pause of the protests in Haiti as demonstrators try to force Moïse’s resignation. Despite this, there is still a fuel shortage and there is a lack of safe water. Dujarric also noted that schools have been closed for the past two weeks.

Protests in the country have been going on for months. Last month, Haitian police used tear gas and live ammunition on protestors in Port-au-Prince to disperse the crowd. During the protests, many people have been injured and at least four people have died.

The last time Moïse addressed the Caribbean nation was on September 25. During his speech, Moïse defended himself and said he would not step down as president, but suggested he might drop his pick for prime minister, Fritz William Michel, and his cabinet as a compromise, the Miami Herald previously reported.

“We have a responsibility to assume our responsibility in front of the nation and history,” said Moïse. “It is because of this I am extending my hand to all of the forces of the nation, for us to sit together to form a national unity government that has the capacity and legitimacy to address together the urgent problems the country is undergoing.”

Senator Youri Latortue, one of the opposition leaders, previously told Radio Caraibes that “Moise will be held accountable for everything that happens in the country today,” according to a previous report from The New York Times. Latortue recently said in a press conference that the opposition has created a committee to "set up a transitional government."

Late last month, a photojournalist and another man were shot and injured by a Haitian senator who fired a gun while he was trying to get through a crowd of demonstrators in Port-au-Prince. Chery Dieu-Nalio, an Associated Press photographer, was shot in the face and the other man, Leon Leblanc, a security guard, was also injured. The two did not suffer any life-threatening injuries.

Leblanc told The Guardian that senator Jean Marie Ralph Féthière drew his handgun on the crowd. Patrice Dumont, another senator, said Féthière warned the crowd he would fire his gun if they would not allow him to leave. Féthière claims he did not know he shot a reporter, despite Dieu-Nalio wearing a helmet and a flak vest with the word “Press” on it at the time he was shot, according to The Guardian.

“I was attacked by groups of violent militants. They tried to get me out of my vehicle. And so I defended myself. Self-defence is a sacred right,” Féthière previously told the publication. “Armed individuals threatened me. It was proportional. Equal force, equal response.”

Protestors have called for Moïse to step down since February after his administration did not investigate the allegations against various political officials who embezzled from the Venezuelan energy company PetroCaribe, the AP previously reported. In a speech in February, Moïse said he would “not leave the country in the hands of armed gangs and drug traffickers,” according to a previous report from CNN.

The announcement came right after the US Department of State issued a Level 4 “Do Not travel” advisory because of the country’s “crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping.” As of June 11, the travel advisory is now at a Level 3.

“Protests, tire burning, and road blockages are frequent and unpredictable. Violent crime, such as armed robbery, is common, and incidents of kidnapping have occurred. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents, and emergency response, including ambulance service, is limited or non-existent,” the travel advisory states.

“Travelers are sometimes targeted, followed, and violently attacked and robbed shortly after leaving the Port-au-Prince International airport. The US Embassy requires its personnel to use official transportation to and from the airport, and it takes steps to detect surveillance and deter criminal attacks during these transports,” it continues.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including NewsweekJuvenile Justice Information Exchange City Limits and local newspapers likeThe Wave and The Home Reporter