Kidnappings of children and women spiking at alarming rates in Haiti
Close to 300 cases have been reported so far this year, nearly the total number registered for all of 2022, and three times more than 2021
PORT-AU-PRINCE/PANAMA CITY/NEW YORK, 7 August 2023 –The ongoing violence in Haiti continues to threaten the well-being of children and women. The latest reports received by UNICEF reveal an alarming spike in kidnappings, with nearly 300 cases confirmed in the first six months of 2023, almost matching the total number documented for the entire previous year, and close to three times more than in 2021.
In most instances, children and women are forcefully taken by armed groups and used for financial or tactical gains. The victims who manage to return home grapple with deep physical and psychological scars, possibly for many years.
“The stories we are hearing from UNICEF colleagues and partners on the ground are shocking and unacceptable," said UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Garry Conille. "Women and children are not commodities. They are not bargaining chips. And they must never be exposed to such unimaginable violence. The growing trend in kidnappings and abductions is extremely worrisome, threatening both the people of Haiti and those who have come to help.”
The overall situation in Haiti is catastrophic. Today, an estimated 5.2 million people, or close to half of the entire population, require humanitarian assistance, including almost three million children.
In addition to children and women being taken from the streets and exposed to deep trauma and distress, reports indicate that local healthcare systems are teetering on the brink of collapse and schools are under attack, keeping civilians under constant terror.
The increase in violence, looting, road blockades, and the pervasive presence of armed groups severely obstruct humanitarian efforts, making it difficult to deliver much-needed aid to affected communities. As months go by, it adds an increasing layer of fear and complexity to an already challenging environment for those delivering life-saving aid.
UNICEF urgently calls for the immediate release and safe return of all those who have been kidnapped in Haiti. As the ongoing violence continues to devastate innocent lives, UNICEF stands steadfast in its commitment to deliver critical aid and support for Haiti's children who have been impacted by these traumatic events.
"I have witnessed the remarkable resilience of Haitian children, women and families as they face seemingly insurmountable challenges, refusing to surrender,” said Conille. "However, their bravery is being met with increasing, unthinkable terror. It must stop now,”
Beyond its initial crisis response, UNICEF plays a crucial role in supporting the children and victims who survive these kidnappings. Working alongside partners, it provides life-saving assistance, ensuring access to medical care, psychosocial support, and safe spaces where children can begin the process of healing and recovery.
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