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Should we give up on Haiti?

“As Christians we trust in God, so we see Haiti in a different way than the rest of the people and the media”, says the head of a children's ministry in the country.

FUENTES Protestante Digital AUTOR 45/Jonatan_Soriano,5/Evangelical_Focus PORT-AU-PRINCE 28 DE MARZO DE 2024 11:13 h
Riots in Port-au-Prince this March 2024. 80% of the city is controlled by gangs / Screenshot BBC video.

Since the beginning of March, Haiti is once again experiencing a spiral of violence and chaos that has plunged the country into a unique situation of insecurity and lack of resources.



The situation has worsened after some of the largest gangs in the territory, previously in conflict with each other, have joined forces against the until recently president and prime minister, Ariel Henry.



Henry came to power in 2021, after the murder of president Jovenel Moïse by a group of mercenaries from Colombia.



The investigation of the case continues to advance after a court accused Moïse's widow, his Prime Minister, Claude Joseph, and the former head of the Haitian National Police, León Charles, of conspiracy in February.



The gangs began to agitate the streets to get Henry's resignation (who also experienced a murder attempt in January 2022). These violent groups control 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince.



The start of the recent violent escalation coincided with the release of 4,700 prisoners after the assault on two prisons by gangs and with Henry's international trip to Nairobi to sign an agreement on the deployment of a multinational police force to combat the armed groups in Haiti.



The prime minister's resignation to form a transitional cabinet on 11 March has not calmed things down, and the country continues to face an unprecedented power vacuum.



 



'We have no president, no ministers, no organised police'



Yvrose Telfort, founder of House of Hope Haiti, a local Christian ministry that assists and provides education to up to 750 children, explains to Spanish news website Protestante Digital that “Haiti is the only country in the world where there is no president, no prime minister, no other ministers, no organized police force, no military force”.



“They are killing people, but we stand firm knowing that God controls Haiti. We believe that something is going to happen, we have to be patient and continue to be resilient because only then we will be able to see how all this pass”, she adds.



 



Who controls Haiti?



For Uruguayan evangelical pastor Jorge Márquez, whose church established a relief shelter in the Caribbean country through the NGO Esalcu, “Haiti is a dethroned nation”.



“In addition to the democratic government and its security forces, there have always been some sort of territorial leaders, doing parallel justice, whom the people respect and obey. If the justice system frees an accused person, even so, a leader of one of those gangs can determine the execution of the accused and no one will do anything”, adds Márquez, who visited the country in 2010, coinciding with the devastating earthquake that killed over 300,000 people.



Telfort agrees that “the gangs are killing mostly military people. People don't go to some places because they are controlled by the gangs who need money to do whatever they are doing, so they will kill people to get what thy need”.



“It's a chaotic situation where we can only depend on God”, she adds.



The hope of the founder of House of Hope Haiti is that God “will raise up someone or some people to be in government, so that things will change”, although she acknowledges that “the mentality has always been that the group that is in power can do whatever they want”, while “other groups fight to do the same or even worse than what has been done".



 



Hunger and thirst



A severe primary resource crisis affects almost the entire population at the moment.



“There is no gas, no food”, and water has become a luxury. Three litres of water cost between two and four dollars and many don't have enough money to afford it. “People have no hope, but we have hope because God is not going to leave us”, points out Telfort.



She also denounces that “we see helicopters coming and going 16 times a day from the Dominican Republic to Haiti. It is deplorable because people cannot travel from Haiti to any other country, but most of those who go in the helicopters are people with money, from the upper classes”.



House of Hope Haiti has managed to solve the security problem by setting up a group of armed guards to protect its premises.



“We do not have a problem with the school or our church, our problem is food”, she stresses, because they have to travel to the border with the Dominican Republic to get the food that is then cooked and distributed to the 750 children they take care of.



There are no safe channels for humanitarian aid to reach the country. Even the International Committee of the Red Cross has told the BBC that it has had to talk to some of the gangs in order to deliver humanitarian aid.



“There is a shortage of food, imports, fuel, and the violent people control the routes, charging money as they wish to allow access", says pastor Márquez.



The Uruguayan pastor shares difficult situations they have gone through. “Threatened with death, we had to leave our children's home and hand it over to the local gang and take our children and a few belongings to a rented place in another area. On the way, we were stopped by another gang who asked us for 3,000 US dollars to allow us to move”.



 



Missionaries and Christian aid



According to Márquez, “important Christian ministries have withdrawn from the country and abandoned their mission and assets”.



Telfort confirms this, and says she is concerned to see less and less humanitarian aid coming in from Christian organisations as “everyone is trying to get out of Haiti. The missionary organisations in the United States are asking most of their missionaries to go back and leave the country”.



This is why Telfort believes that the only help that can be given now is at the local level. “A group from our church is going to help in a very bad area. There is a lot of hunger in that area, so they go and give rice, spaghetti and things like that”.



In an article analysing the effect of international evangelical aid in cases such as Haiti, Warren Cole Smith referred to what Bob Lupton proposes in books such as Toxic charity or Theirs is the Kingdom, and pointed out that “short-term mission trips may have a detrimental effect”, and that "micro lending and church and community-building programs run by Indigenous people are more effective than short-term mission projects”.



 



Is there a solution?



While waiting for the announcement of elections and the formation of a new government, the question repeated in the mainstream media is what will happen to Haiti, whether there is a chance of recovery or whether it should simply be declared another failed state.



“Our prayer is that God will bring justice to the hungry and sick children deprived of medicine, that God in his mercy will remember the pregnant mothers and their children, that he will stop the killing of innocents and the appropriation of land and buildings under the excuse that they belong to their ancestors”, underlines Márquez.



He stresses that humanly speaking, it seems extremely difficult to resolve this chaos and anarchy, “but whenever the people cried out, God raised up a Samson, a Joshua, a Deborah. We believe in God, but the cry of the church of Jesus Christ must rise”.



“As Christians we trust in God, because we know what he does, we know that he promised us that he would not leave us or forsake us, so we see Haiti in a different way than the rest of the people and the media”, says Telfort.



While she acknowledges that it is “a chaotic situation”, she insists that “we can only depend on God”.



[analysis]

[title]One more year[/title]

[photo][/photo]

[text]At Evangelical Focus, we have a sustainability challenge ahead. We invite you to join those across Europe and beyond who are committed with our mission. Together, we will ensure the continuity of Evangelical Focus and Protestante Digital (Spanish) in 2024.





Learn all about our #OneMoreYearEF campaign here (English).



[/text][/analysis]


 

 


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