The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has denounced a deadly Christmas Day attack by an armed group on a family in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
UNICEF said four people, including two girls under the age of 10, were killed in the attack, which occurred in the Croix de Bouquet district. It said four other family members were kidnapped.
Similar attacks occurred in the same neighbourhood a week ago, according to Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Haiti.
“Regrettably, such killings are not isolated,” Maes said in a statement, adding “from July to September 2023 alone, Haiti has witnessed 88 grave violations of children’s rights, with 37 of these resulting in the tragic loss of lives or injuries during armed conflicts.”
UNICEF said rampant gang violence, mainly affecting the capital city, continues to plague the French-speaking Caribbean country, where nearly half the population, roughly five million people, needs humanitarian support.
Maes said major crimes, including homicides and kidnappings, are escalating at an unprecedented rate, particularly in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince and the Artibonite department.
Between July and September, the Haitian National Police recorded a staggering 1,239 homicides, compared to 577 in the same period in 2022, according to UNICEF.
It said abductions also surged to 701 victims, representing a shocking 244 per cent increase.
Furthermore, UNICEF said, in areas controlled by armed groups, places such as schools, health facilities and protection services have also come under attack.
UNICEF said it and partners have repeatedly called for the protection of civilians, in particular children and women, and for the respect of international humanitarian law.
“Killing children is a grave violation of human rights,” said Maes, adding that the repeated attacks, and access restrictions caused by the violence and insecurity, are hampering the ability to reach people in need.
He underlined UNICEF’s commitment “to take all measures to ensure the safety of children and their families, and to reduce the suffering of the victims”.
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