Extortion and violence are on the rise, especially in Port-au-Prince, which is suffering a gang war. Christians from several churches and ministries ask for prayer and help.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), around 2,500 people died in Haiti so far this year, 1,000 were injured and almost 970 kidnapped.
In the second half of August alone, 71 people were killed, several were injured and over 10,000 locals were forced to flee their homes due to serious human rights violations by criminal groups across the country.
“The humanitarian community is deeply concerned about another escalation of violence of extreme brutality. Entire families, including children, were executed while others were burned alive. This upsurge in violence has caused unspeakable continued suffering of Haitians”, said the UN humanitarian coordinator, Philippe Branchat.
The United States had to close its embassy in Haiti due to nearby shootings. Gang violence has plunged te capital city, Port-au-Prince, and the surrounding area into lawlessness.
Social organisations in Haiti recently denounced that all churches are closed due to extortion and blackmail by criminal gangs, which demand payment to allow religious services to be held.
Maxo Joseph, of the Vision for Haiti and the World Foundation, reported that criminals kidnap church members in Port-au-Prince to demand ransoms of up to $100,000. If they are not paid, the church members are not released.
“It is now a worldwide problem and as a pastor, I feel I have to call for my country but also for support from the international community”, underlined Joseph.
Several Christians were killed by a criminal gang at the end of August, during a march where Christian churches demanded the liberation of the country from the armed criminality that has subjected them for years. According to reports by local journalists and human rights groups, the marchers were attacked with machine guns from a criminal group that controls one of the capital's most dangerous neighbourhoods.
In a video posted on social media, missionary pastor in Haiti, Eleasin Torres of the Blessing Valley Church of God in Puerto Rico, pointed out that “Haiti is going through the worst moment in its history, several of the neighbourhoods where we have established churches have been occupied by the criminal gangs that have taken over the country”.
The pastor added that for the first time, the church he leads, founded fifty years ago, “has been closed. Our brothers and sisters had to flee with the few things they were able to take with them, because death is everywhere”.
According to Mission Network News, the violence is now limited to the south of Haiti. Pastor Torres agreed that “in the countryside there is still a little more freedom, but the city is cornered. Port-au-Prince is under siege, the criminal gangs have divided it into sections”.
“Just because they see something in the news about Haiti, not every Haitian is bad. Not everybody is bad. There are good people and there are hurting people in Haiti”, said Roseline DeHart of For Haiti with love, which runs a clinic that cares for burned children in the city of Cap Haitien.
DeHart explained that “while this bad news has been going on again, we have people calling us to see if we are safe, I keep telling them that Cap Haitien is okay. It is normal”.
Every time Haiti is on the news, “our contribution goes down because people don’t want to send the money thinking that it doesn’t go down because of all the problems that are going on”, she added.
“We are having a hard time buying supplies for the clinic. When somebody comes in the clinic, we can’t tell them no, because they are hurting. We would like prayers. Maybe God will talk to somebody to help us to buy the stuff we need for the clinic”, concluded DeHart.