Testimonials of the displaced by violence in Haiti

302 households and 1089 people, are currently housed in the Gymnasium of Carrefour. Among them, 446 children and 582 women and girls who live in very precarious conditions.

By Pierre Guerson Alexandre and Eveline Dominique Chery
Gimnasio del centro deportivo de Carrefour.
14 June 2021

Men, women and children displaced in Carrefour as they fled the violent clashes between rival gangs raging in Martissant and Fontamara, in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince since 1 June. Thousands of other displaced people are reported to have sought refuge with host families, or even returned to towns in other departments. 302 households and 1089 people, are currently housed in the Gymnasium of Carrefour. Among them, 446 children and 582 women and girls who live in very precarious conditions. 101 have their houses burnt down and other 80 have their houses damaged. Here are their testimonials.


“We’ve lost our dignity in this displacement”

My name is Marie M (not her real name), I am 45 years old and I’m a mother of four. I’ve lived in Martissant for six years. I’m a retailer. I do small business in the streets of Port-au-Prince to earn a living and take care of my family. In my area, also controlled by a gang, we’ve never had this kind of situation. No theft, no rape, no kidnapping, no arson. But members of another gang came to wreak havoc in our neighborhood to conquer more territory.

Last Tuesday, we experienced hell with heavy gunfire detonating in the area. When the arrival of gangs was announced, all residents fled. Unable to resist, I had to flee the area with my family to find refuge at Mount Carmel Church; and we were transferred on Sunday 6 June to the Carrefour sports centre.

We didn’t have time to take personal assets with us. A neighbor who returned to the area to collect some personal belongings was killed by the bandits who called him an informant for a rival gang. For the time being, I don't know anything about my house and don't even know if I can go back there.

I find it difficult to live in this situation that causes us to lose part of our dignity. From what I’ve heard, the bandits said that if the displaced did not return to Martissant within the next three months, they would no longer be allowed to get back to the area.

I wish I could go back home to resume my activities with dignity. But the time is not right. The government must do something to restore lasting peace in Martissant and throughout the country.

With this insecurity crisis that has lasted too long, Haitian leaders have shown their weakness, their helplessness and even their non-existence in the face of armed gangs. So far, the government has done or said nothing serious after a week of unrest during which people were injured, killed and thousands more had to flee their areas of residence.

Displaced persons in the Gymnasium of the Carrefour sports center.

“I would be happy to go home and go back to school”

Me llamo Sherlie (nombre ficticio) y tengo 10 años. Vivo en Martissant y soy la menor de una familia de cinco miembros: mi madre, mi padre, mis tres hermanos y mi hermana. Actualmente estoy en cuarto grado en una escuela de Martissant.

El pasado jueves, 3 de junio, me vi obligada a huir de nuestra casa debido a la inseguridad que crece en mi barrio. Desde el 1 de junio, hemos oído disparos, se han incendiado casas, se han producido heridos y violaciones. El 3 de junio, unos bandidos armados empezaron a incendiar algunas casas del vecindario

In panic, my father fled with my three brothers in one direction while my mother and I took another direction. So far, I have no news from my father and my three brothers, but I hope they are all alive.

At first, my mother and I found refuge in Saint Charles Church and on June 7th, we went to the Carrefour sports center. Here, people told us that our house had been burnt down. Since my mother and I arrived here, I haven’t heard from my father and my brothers. Here, we don't have everything we need. Not enough water, not enough food, no mattress to sleep on, and not enough toilets. Despite all that, I'm fine.

My biggest worry now is not being able to go to school anymore. I’ve even heard that my school was damaged or burnt down but I'm not sure. In any case, that would be a shame! When peace is restored, I would be happy to return home and start going back to school. But unfortunately, we don't have a house anymore.

Three-month-old baby suffers the pangs of displacement

Mike (not his real name) is a little boy aged three months. Since his birth, he has lived in the Martissant with his mother, his grandmother, and his 7-year-old older brother. From the 15th day of his life, his mother fed him cereals and artificial milk. According to her, her milk had dried up and she was unable to continue breastfeeding.

Mike’s family fled to the Carrefour sports center on Friday June 4th after conflicts broke out between rival armed gangs in Martissant that same week. Their house was set on fire, they lost all their clothes and personal belongings. Since then, Mike has found it hard to eat and his mother cannot afford to buy him milk.

The little baby can go half a day without eating because he cannot consume the meals distributed on the displaced site. He is at risk of malnutrition.

Mike’s older brother, who is currently a second grader, had to stop going to school. The way to his school is occupied by armed gangs and his school uniforms have gone up in smoke.

Descargando ayuda de emergencia desde un helicóptero.
Un niño es atendido por una enfermera.

UNICEF assists displaced people 

To assist people displaced from Martissant and Fontamara to Carrefour, UNICEF transported by helicopter from the centre of Port-au-Prince 200 hygiene kits composed of soap, water chlorination product, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, sanitary napkins and a tap-bucket; 200 jerry cans, 10,000 masks, 250 mattresses and 20 tarpaulins of 20 square meters.

UNICEF also conveyed from Les Cayes in the South Department, items pre-positioned in the warehouse of its partners, the Haitian Red Cross and the Dutch Red Cross. A total of 500 one-family and 20 five-family hygiene kits, 500 jerrycans, 500 boxes of water purification tablets, one early childhood and two adolescent recreational kits were sent to Carrefour.

“UNICEF and partners are providing emergency assistance to the displaced, but more assistance is urgently needed. It is also urgent to find a lasting solution to the violence that has raged in the heart of the Haitian capital for more than six months, so that all these families return to their homes, and children resume their education,” declared Bruno Maes, Representative of UNICEF in Haiti.