Haiti: Civil Unrest Information bulletin no. 1
This bulletin is being issued for information only; it reflects the current situation and details available at this time.
Since January 2019 large protests has taken place in the capital and other cities of Haiti leaving people dead and several injured.
The large socio-economic crisis and the devaluation of the local currency against the US dollar and the resulting increase in prices have fuelled public discontent. These social protests involved in some cases a high degree of violence, including attacks to public buildings and private companies, burning of gas stations and banks and people injured and killed. Police are deployed to in key locations to try to control the situation. Some supermarkets are still open for a few hours per day but there are big concerns about the evolution of the situation, all schools and universities are closed. Many key streets of the capital and other cities have been blocked. This has an impact in terms of access by the population to basic services and goods. The situation is expected to continue the upcoming days.
The violent demonstrations began in October 2018 and have put the country in a situation of uncertainty on a daily basis. Following the call of the opposition to protest on Thursday 7 February (symbolic datereversal of the Duvalier and beginning of the presidency’s term), and to block the country since February 6, in order to protest against the high cost of living.
The current socio-economic crisis hitting Haiti should be read in the light of events which deeply affected the country in the past years and months. Struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake in 2010, Haiti has been repeatedly impacted by disastrous event leaving the population in a state of constant recovery:
• A cholera outbreak from 2010 to 2017;
• Hurricane Matthew in 2016 which left 1.2 million people affected and much needs hardly covered.
• In July 2018 major protests erupted as the prime minister announced increase in gasoline prices, with demonstrations using burning tires and barricades to block major streets across Port-au-Prince and in the city of Cap-Haitien.
• In October an earthquake impacted the North of the country and left over 2000 houses destroyed and 16 000 damaged. Needs of the affected population were hardly met.
The Haitian Red Cross with support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has been responding to each of these events with several Emergency Appeals launched over the years.
Stress has been constant on a population now seeing their livelihood threatened by years of political instability, a weak Gourde, expensive food and cost of living and lingering drought which mainly affects North of the country.
The exit of UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSTAH) in 2017 which was acting as a key public security actor since 2004 has left a void that the authorities have struggling to fill with National Police capacities. The MINUSJUSHT mission doesn’t quite count with as much as peacekeeping capacities has did its predecessor.