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Haiti: Impact of social unrest on the humanitarian situation - Flash Update #1 (As of 22 September 2022)

Countries
Haiti
Sources
OCHA
Publication date

This report was prepared by OCHA Haiti with support from humanitarian partners. It contains the latest available information as of 22 September 2022.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Since 12 September 2022, Haiti has been rocked by at times violent protests that have paralyzed the country, including the activities of humanitarian partners.

  • Roadblocks have sprung up across the streets of major cities, affecting mobility and limiting access to food and water. The fuel supply crisis has worsened and is severely disrupting electricity and telecommunications.

  • After grinding to a halt over the last week, economic activity is slowly picking up again. Looting and attempted ransacking of businesses and attacks on public buildings have been reported in several cities across the country, including the Port-au-Prince Metropolitan Area (PAPMA), Les Cayes, Port-de-Paix, Gonaïves and Jérémie.

  • Humanitarian partners have also reported looting of storage warehouses and attempted break-ins at their facilities.

  • While the situation has forced many humanitarian activities to come to a halt, the needs of the Haitian population are worsening and the living conditions of the most vulnerable are deteriorating, particularly in the IDP sites in the PAPMA.

  • The current crisis is further exacerbating humanitarian access challenges across the country. Access is a key priority to ensure that humanitarian actors can reach vulnerable populations to provide assistance.

  • Coordination among UN entities and with humanitarian partners not only enables better identification of the impacts on vulnerable populations but also opportunities for immediate response as soon as the security situation permits.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

Since the end of July 2022, Haiti has been experiencing social protests that have gradually gained momentum, often paralyzing activity in major provincial cities for a few hours or even days at a time, until reaching an alarming peak across the country on 12 September.

Insecurity, the rising cost of living and the fuel distribution crisis remain at the heart of these protests.

In recent years, the humanitarian situation in Haiti has deteriorated amid growing insecurity. Since June 2021, gang control in the Port-au-Prince Metropolitan Area (PAPMA) has expanded significantly. In a context of widespread insecurity, the population finds itself trapped in the midst of intense clashes in violence-stricken neighbourhoods or unable to move freely to the capital as main roads remain under gang control. Access to vulnerable populations continues to be affected, a persistent challenge over the past year that has severely hindered the delivery of humanitarian assistance to communities in southern Haiti devastated by the earthquake on 14 August 2021.

The current situation has prompted a slowdown in the country’s economic activity, spurring a fourth consecutive year of recession. However, it is the current fuel crisis that appears to be driving public discontent. In fact, fuel issues have been one of the main triggers for several protests in Haiti, including the Peyi Lok crisis in 2019.

On 11 September 2022, Prime Minister Ariel Henry issued a series of statements, including an announcement on the elimination of fuel subsidies, which will effectively raise prices at the pump.

The following day, on 12 September, demonstrators set up roadblocks across major cities. While the country witnessed considerable civil unrest in August, the speed and intensity at which these events unfolded took both the public and humanitarian organizations by surprise.

The entire country remains paralyzed by roadblocks and spontaneous demonstrations. Cars near these roadblocks are being shot at and gunfire regularly rings out in the streets of cities. Many businesses remain closed, as looting and attempted ransacking of businesses as well as attacks on private and public buildings have been reported in several cities across the country, including Port-au-Prince, Gonaïves and Jérémie.

Despite the presence of tankers ready to deliver fuel, workers at the Varreux port, the main distribution hub in the capital, remain unable to reach the site to unload shipments. Meanwhile, trucks have not been able to leave the terminal to distribute fuel to retail gas stations since 12 September. Gang activity remains at the heart of the fuel supply crisis. Beyond the roadblocks that have drastically limited movement for more than a week, access to the port continues to be prevented by gang activity that frequently blocks roads and access to terminals.

Nevertheless, formal and informal economic activities slowly resumed in the metropolitan area on 21 and 22 September.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.