Thursday, June 13, 2019

Civil Disturbances Continue in Haiti

The political and socio-economic situation in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in the country continues to deteriorate as anti-corruption demonstrations which began in February were re-ignited over the weekend.  The large scale public disturbances turned violent leading to road blockades, burning of cars. vandalism of public and private property, robberies, school closings, and sporadic shooting of demonstrators. As of Thursday, June 13, the confrontation between demonstrators and police is stalemated and travel through most of Haiti remains unsafe.

The disturbances were sparked by the report of the disappearance of two billion dollars from the Venezuelan-aided Petro Caribe Fund designated for humanitarian and infrastructure projects.  The funds were allegedly stolen by high ranking Government officials, including President Jovenal Moise.

The civil demonstrations occurred in the context of two years of declining economic conditions in Haiti, with the Haitian currency being devalued sharply and worsening of distribution of food and fuel.  Haiti is facing a large-scale food emergency with 37% of the rural population without access to food. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Fund now ranks Haiti as the leading underfunded food emergency in the world.

Despite the civil disruptions, Medicine For Peace is committed to continue its life-saving projects in rural Haiti. We are moving forward with more robust Safety and Security Policies, including education of Haitian and North American staff and volunteers in behavior to mitigate risks. We have cancelled all volunteer activities at the present time but our women’s health programs have not faltered thanks to our dedicated staff on the ground.  We remain grateful to our supporters who share our vision of a life of health, well-being, and dignity for Haitian women and their families.