United Nations, 4 April 2024

As a siege imposed by heavily armed gangs on Port-au-Prince, Haiti, stretches into a second month, the UN migration agency sounded an alarm on Thursday about the ever-worsening humanitarian situation.

The surge of violence since February this year has reached “unprecedented levels” resulting in rampant food insecurity and multiple displacements, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

As the country grapples with this unparalleled crisis, IOM said families continue to struggle to secure even the most basic necessities as desperation exacerbates.

“While assistance provision was easier during the aftermath of earthquakes, today, it is an increasingly daunting task,” said Philippe Branchat, head of IOM in Haiti.

“Humanitarian staff, including our own, are facing unparalleled security challenges, balancing the imperative to assist others with the stark realities of personal risk and displacement.” 

The crisis extends its reach far beyond the confines of Port-au-Prince, affecting communities across Haiti and leaving over 360,000 people displaced nationwide, the UN agency said.

For the nearly 100,000 internally displaced people living in temporary sites, conditions are deplorable, amplifying the depths of suffering. Their needs include access to food, healthcare, water, psychological support, and hygiene facilities, IOM said.

The IOM psychosocial team said it has encountered cases of suicide tendencies which once was a taboo topic, but is now becoming more commonly disclosed, especially among displaced populations.

The lack of economic opportunities, coupled with a collapsing health system and shuttered schools, casts a shadow of despair, driving many to contemplate migration as their sole viable recourse, according to the IOM team.

However, for most Haitians, the prospect of regular migration remains an insurmountable hurdle, leaving irregular migration as their only semblance of hope, the agency reported.

Despite the worsening security situation, IOM said 13,000 migrants were forcibly returned to Haiti by neighbouring countries in March, 46 per cent more than the previous month.

Nearly 3,000 of them have received humanitarian assistance upon arrival, with an additional 1,200 migrants benefiting from psychosocial support, according to IOM. 

IOM and partners are delivering assistance to the areas where it is most needed. In March, more than 1.5 million litres of water were delivered to sites hosting internally displaced people, reaching more than 23,500 people.

Essential items such as blankets, water containers, solar lamps, and kitchen sets have also been distributed to more than 18,000 people, the agency said.

The original article appeared here.

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