Christian organisations in Haiti alert about the surge of “kidnappings and robbery” in a country where 75% of the population is below the poverty line.
Several gunmen stormed the property of Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince and killed him this Wednesday, interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph reported after the attack.
They also injured his wife, who has been evacuated to a hospital in Florida (United States) where she is said to be in a critical but stable condition and is receiving treatment.
The chief of Haitian National Police confirmed in a televised statement late on Wednesday that “four mercenaries were killed and two were intercepted under our control", and "three policemen who had been taken hostage have been recovered”.
Acting Prime Minister Joseph released a statement defining the murder as an “odious, inhuman, and barbaric act”. He also closed the international airport and declared a two-week “state of siege”.
“The country’s security situation is under the control of the National Police of Haiti and the Armed Forces of Haiti. All measures are being taken to guarantee the continuity of the state and to protect the nation”, added Joseph.
Last February, 23 people were arrested, including a top judge and a senior police officer, accused of an attempt to kill Moïse and overthrow the government.
The UN Security Council condemned the assassination and called on all parties to “remain calm, exercise restraint and to avoid any act that could contribute to further instability”. The council is due to be briefed on the killing in a closed-door meeting on Thursday.
The neighbouring Dominican Republic ordered the “immediate closure” of its border with Haiti.
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter that he was “shocked and saddened at the death of President Moïse. Our condolences are with his family and the people of Haiti. This is an abhorrent act and I call for calm at this time”.
I am shocked and saddened at the death of President Moïse. Our condolences are with his family and the people of Haiti. This is an abhorrent act and I call for calm at this time.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 7, 2021
“We condemn this heinous act, and I am sending my sincere wishes for First Lady Moïse’s recovery. The United States offers condolences to the people of Haiti, and we stand ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti”, US President Joe Biden said in a statement.
Moïse had recently claimed that his five-year term should end in 2022 because he wasn't sworn in until February 2017, but opposition leaders demanded the he step down, arguing that his term legally ended in February 2021.
He has been killed a day after he nominated Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon, as Haiti’s new Prime Minister.
Haiti’s economic, political and social problems have deepened recently, with gang violence, kidnappings, great inflation, food and fuel becoming scarcer, and a recent surge in coronavirus infections.
Nearly 75% of the population lives below the poverty line, while it still tries to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew that struck in 2016.
Several evangelical associations have been working in Haiti for many years to help those who are suffering due to the crisis in the country.
According to one of them, GAiN Spain, the murder of President Moïse “is shocking news, but it comes in the midst of a very serious situation of violence and insecurity that is hardly talked about”.
They explain that “the pandemic is perhaps the least worrying thing Haitians have experienced in recent months and years. Children have stopped studying not so much because of the virus, but especially because of this situation. People have been confined not so much because of Covid-19, but more out of fear of robbery and kidnapping”.
“We do not know what this news about the president's death may bring for the immediate future, but we are and will continue to stand by our children and friends there, caring for them, supporting them, moving forward with them, trusting in God and praying for and with them”.
Alianza Solidaria, the social branch of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance, is also concerned about “the situation of violence and insecurity that the country has been experiencing for the last two years”, and believes that “the assassination of the president is just another example of this”.
“The population is suffering as never before. Who knows if this event will not help the international community to become aware of the worrying situation in the country and to intervene in some way”, the organisation supporting a education and food plan in Haiti stressed.
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