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People take part in a protest demanding the resignation of Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry after weeks of shortages in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Alamy Stock Photo
hell on earth

The Horror of Haiti: Sexual violence and murder gangs as Ireland works on diplomatic solution

Irish diplomats have said Haitian society has collapsed as hunger and gang violence drive the Caribbean state towards famine.

LAST UPDATE | 29 Oct 2022

THE STREETS OF Port au Prince on the island of Haiti have descended into a barbaric campaign of systematic sexual violence and murder by heavily armed gangs. 

Such is the catastrophic descent into anarchy that Irish diplomats based at the UN Security Council have found themselves at the centre of a major push towards a military intervention on the ground. 

The Journal spoke this week to a source working on the ground in Haiti and to multiple sources with a knowledge of the behind the scenes work at the United Nations mission in New York.

In the hours since the piece was first published, it has emerged the leader of one of the main political parties of Haiti was assassinated in the capital,

Eric Jean Baptiste, secretary-general of the Rally of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP) and a former presidential candidate, was shot dead Friday evening, party spokesman Ricardo Nordin told AFP.

“His vehicle was riddled with bullets. His security guard died on the spot. Eric Jean Baptiste died in the hospital,” Nordin said.

It was not clear who was behind the slaying, which occurred in Laboule, in the hills above the capital Port-au-Prince.

The RDNP was founded in 1979 by Christian Democrat Leslie Manigat, who was briefly president of Haiti in 1988 before the military ousted him in a coup.

Less than a week ago, 52-year-old Jean Baptiste joined leaders of other political parties in demanding a historic compromise to bring Haiti out of its political and security crises.


Heavily armed gangs sow terror in much of Haiti, blocking distribution of goods from a main port, as a resurgence of cholera threatens public health in the impoverished nation.

Jimmy Chérizier is the leader of the biggest gang, G9 – he is a former police officer and is now leading the worst of the violence. He is ominously known as “Barbeque”. 

A UN report has found that besides the violence and the systematic use of sexual violence against opponents the gangs are preventing fuel and aid supplies into Haiti.

This has seen a near famine level of hunger on the streets. 

A source involved in security operations in the country has told The Journal that violence is a constant in Port au Prince with countless deaths of innocent people caught in the crossfire between the gangs as well as gun battles with police.

jimmy-barbecue-cherizier-leader-of-the-g9-coalition-of-gangs-in-the-metropolitan-area-of-port-au-prince-speaks-to-members-of-the-media-in-port-au-prince-haiti-october-26-2021-reutersralph-t Jimmy Barbecue Cherizier, leader of the 'G9' coalition of gangs in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Such is the lack of supplies that people are now dying from hunger and thirst – there are also reports of a severe cholera outbreak as water sanitation has broken down.

The security source in the country said that moving around has now become almost impossible, with heavily armed convoys of military trained security involved. 

The gangs, numbering between 95 separate groups, have taken up strategic positions on roadways. 

“The aim of these gangs is to depose the Government of Ariel Henry but they are also looking to profit from the violence. 

“It has always been crazy here, particularly in the wake of the earthquake in 2010 but it has now just gone to the point where it is at the worst state security wise. 

“The only safe way in and out of Port au Prince is through the airport but there is no movement at the port because they have blockaded that.

“The entrance has armed people manning road checkpoints and they’ve blocked the road using large trucks,” a source said. 

There are routes in via the adjoining Dominican Republic but these are said to be too unsafe to travel by road.   

The gangs have attacked foreign aid agencies also with a Medecin Sans Frontiers (MSF) medical clinic reportedly coming under fire.


An MSF Doctor, Luxamilda Jean-Louis, based in the city said that the past two weeks has seen a resurgence of cholera, having been declared cholera-free for over three years.

“Last week, a pregnant woman came to our hospital in Cité Soleil needing an emergency caesarean section. We tried to transfer her to a medical facility where she might find that kind of treatment, but she died. 

“Whether it’s due to insecurity on the roads, or to health structures not functioning anymore, events like this happen every day in Port-au-Prince. The situation is so volatile that it can change from one day to the next, even from one hour to the next,” she said.

The power plants have stopped working because of the blockade leaving hospitals to work on power generators.

They too are now reducing the use because of the lack of fuel – they may have to shut permanently if the blockade continues.

“We are facing the same situation as other hospitals in Port-au-Prince; we will not be able to operate our medical facilities for more than a few weeks if we do not have access to fuel,” says Mumuza Muhindo, MSF’s head of activities in Haiti. 

“In addition, medical equipment, which we also need in order to continue to treat cholera cases and provide care to people, is currently blocked at the port,” he says.

people-displaced-by-gang-war-violence-in-cite-soleil-take-refuge-at-the-hugo-chavez-square-transformed-into-a-shelter-living-in-inhumane-conditions-in-port-au-prince-haiti-october-16-2022-reutersr People displaced by gang war violence in Cite Soleil take refuge at the Hugo Chavez Square transformed into a shelter living in inhumane conditions in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The use of sexual violence has been identified by a UN report, published last week, and the details of which make for horrific reading. 

Armed gangs have used rape and collective rapes to “instill fear, punish, subjugate, and inflict pain on local populations”, the report states.

Women, girls, and sometimes men, are also coerced into becoming the “partners” of armed elements, in gang strongholds.

“Refusing such sexual demands can lead to reprisals including killing and arson attacks,” the report finds.

The UN study found that sexual violence occurs during kidnappings, which our security source has said are at levels unseen anywhere else in the world. 

Some women and girls are repeatedly subjected to rape, by one or multiple armed captors, at times over the course of several days or weeks. The kidnappers have even used recorded videos of the rapes to press the victims’ families to pay the ransoms.

“Over the course of the past year, gang violence has spiralled out of control, particularly in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince and in some regional cities.

“Sixty percent of the capital is now reportedly under the control or the influence of gang elements who have easy access to high calibre weapons and ammunitions trafficked from abroad,” the UN report found. 


One key aspect of the situation on the ground, the security source said, is the ready supply of heavy weaponry. 

“They’re all poorly trained these gangs, which helps, but they are very heavily armed and the theory here in Haiti is that they have been armed by people in Florida who have smuggled the arms in here. 

“There would be a large Haitian population in Florida due to the previous migration from here but there are also gun dealers who are using this as an opportunity,” the source explained. 

Proof of the origin of the weaponry, according to the source, is found in the captured firearms which, when checked by investigators, shows they originated in Florida. 

While that has been taking place, Irish diplomatic sources, have said that Ireland’s delegation in the UN Headquarters in New York has been working on sanctions and other measures. They are also working aid agencies such as Goal and Trocaire.  

Sanctions have been introduced against the gangs and their facilitators – this includes a travel ban and also measures to control the flow of money. Sources have said that a unanimous agreement, which included Russia and China, has given greater hope of a stronger response in the coming weeks.   

One source said that the sanctions will unlikely directly impact the finances of Barbeque but will target those providing the arms. 

It is understood that the Irish team on the UN Security Council has played a significant role in the introduction of a unique sanctions measure – identifying specific sanctions associated around sexual violence.

Hell on earth

A statement before the UN Security Council by Ambassador Fergal Mythen, Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the UN last week was made in strong language and laid out the Irish position.

“It is truly like hell on earth. It is a hell created by the parasitic actions of gangs, capitalising on a political, institutional and security vacuum. They show nothing but contempt for the Haitian people,” he said. 

“For the Haitian people, and in particular women, girls and boys, this is their reality. Collective rape. Mutilation. Execution. Being burned alive.

“The violence and depravity exhibited by gangs, has only escalated in recent weeks. They act with almost universal impunity. The international community cannot leave Haiti to face this unprecedented challenge alone.

Mythen’s comments, coupled and discussion this website had with sources has shown Ireland’s willingness to support for a move greater than sanctions – a massive military intervention.

“We are ready to work with colleagues on a draft resolution on security support in the coming days. Ireland also remains actively engaged with fellow council members to create a sanctions regime, aimed specifically at these groups,” he added. 

haitian-national-police-officers-deploy-tear-gas-during-a-protest-demanding-the-resignation-of-haitis-prime-minister-ariel-henry-after-weeks-of-shortages-in-port-au-prince-haiti-october-17-2022-r Haitian National police officers deploy tear gas during a protest demanding the resignation of Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

What this military support will look like is not fully determined yet but security and diplomatic sources have suggested that it would almost certainly involve the United States. 

One security source said it would require a large force especially to regain control of the port however in recent days US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken would not be drawn on the make up of the force.  

The source in Haiti said that the issue is that the Government is not supported by the population and any military intervention would be further complicated by the fact that it would be seen by the population as securing the tenure of Henry.

The source also said that any intervention must involve the Haitian police and that it must be seen as offering support to the hard pressed officers. Sources also believe that US and Canadian military are the most likely States to be involved.  

Sources have said that such a mission will almost certainly not include Irish troops.

The mission would be UN backed but not with the trademark blue helmets – instead would be a conventional military expedition. 

Just this week Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State met his Canadian counterpart Melanie Joly in Ottawa where they discussed a military response.

Sources said that plans to adopt a resolution to copper fasten the use of troops on the ground was due to take place in the next two weeks but that has been pushed back. 

Both diplomatic and security sources stressed that until the international community decide to take military action the behaviour of Barbeque’s G9 and the other gangs will continue to descend into barbarism and the Haitian people will continue to suffer. 

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