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In Haiti, gangs vandalize cultural and educational buildings

Photo: Clarens Siffroy Agence France-Presse More than 53,000 people fled Port-au-Prince between March 8 and 27.

France Media Agency in Port-au-Prince

5:05 p.m.

  • Americas

Armed gangs stormed the National Library of Haiti, located in the capital Port-au-Prince, on Wednesday, its director told Agence France-Presse, a new illustration of the spiral of violence in this Caribbean country.

“I have been told that the thugs are taking away the furniture from the institution. They also ransacked the building's generator. I alerted the police for rapid intervention,” said Dangelo Néard.

“We have rare documents, more than 200 years old, of heritage importance which risk being burned or damaged by bandits,” added the library director.

After a few days of relative calm, the gangs resumed their attacks on Monday in several districts of the capital.

Last week, they attacked and looted two universities also located in the capital.

“UNESCO strongly condemns the acts of vandalism recorded at the National School of Arts (ENARTS) and the arson of the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) and other educational and cultural heritage of Haiti,” UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) said in a statement on Wednesday.

Three health facilities were also looted by armed gangs on March 26 and 27, the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a separate statement.

The country has been ravaged for decades by poverty, natural disasters, political instability and gang violence.

At the end of February, powerful Haitian gang leaders, who now control much of Port-au-Prince, joined forces to attack police stations, prisons, the airport and the seaport to push Prime Minister Ariel Henry out.

The latter announced on March 11 that he would resign to make way for a transition council.

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Waiting Authorities

But the formation of this council has still not been finalized, due to disagreements between political parties and other stakeholders who must appoint the next prime minister and doubts about the very legality of such an organ.

“Within a week, we will have a chosen prime minister,” council member Leslie Voltaire promised AFP. The advisors try to agree to appoint him.

“The problem with time is that we spent two and a half years with Ariel Henry who did nothing, and now in two weeks we want to do a lot of things,” he said. added.

According to him, “there was a head who had no political will to combat insecurity, to combat the poverty of the people, to allow airports, ports, etc. to operate. and who let the situation deteriorate.”

“We had put the cart before the horse. »

The violence ravaging Port-au-Prince forced more than 53,000 people to flee the capital between March 8 and 27, mostly because of gangs.

A “cataclysmic” situation has alerted the UN, with 1,554 killed in the first three months of 2024, lamenting that “porous borders” make it easier to supply gangs with weapons and ammunition.

The population is facing a serious humanitarian crisis, with shortages of food, medicine and other basic products.

“Last week, ten pharmacies in the capital were looted, making access to medicines even more difficult,” OCHA said.

As clashes between police and gangs continue, the country's police said in a statement published on X on Tuesday that they are “determined and committed to restoring order and peace.”

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116