Dozens Killed As Wave Of Gang Violence Roils Haitian Capital

Map of Haiti

 

Jackson held out for more than a week as gunfire ripped through his poor neighborhood in the Haitian capital, hoping help would come to end the bloody turf war between rival gangs.

“For eight days, the bursts of bullets flew non-stop but we thought that the police were going to intervene,” he said.

But the police never showed. So like thousands of others, 29-year-old Jackson — taking nothing but the clothes he was wearing — fled his home.

The United Nations said Friday that clashes between rival gangs in the downtrodden slums of northern Port-au-Prince have claimed the lives of at least 75 people, including women and children, since all-out war started on April 24.

The world body said it was “deeply concerned by the rapid deterioration of the security situation” in the city.

“According to multiple sources, at least 75 people, including women and children, have been killed and 68 others injured,” the UN statement said.

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It added that at least 9,000 residents of the conflict-hit northern suburbs have been forced to flee their homes and take refuge with relatives or in temporary shelters such as churches and schools.

Jackson held out until last Sunday. He was just returning from church when the fighting came right to his door.

“I didn’t know that the members of the ‘400 mawozo’ gang had managed to cross the bridge” next to his home, Jackson said, referring to the most feared of all the gangs.

“Suddenly I heard neighbors yelling ‘They’re at Shada crossroads’, which meant they were 30, 40 meters from me. I had my identity card, my driver’s license, and my insurance card on me. I took my passport and ran out,” he said.

As he passed a nearby gas station, he saw gang members accusing the motorcycle taxi drivers who were parked thereof being lookouts for a rival gang. “So they shot them,” Jackson said.

Lost Education 

For decades, armed gangs have run amok in the poorest neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, but they have drastically increased their hold across the Haitian capital and the country at-large in recent years, sending murders and kidnappings skyrocketing.

The UN has denounced the “extreme violence” of the gangs, saying local sources recorded “acts of sexual violence, including the gang rape of children as young as 10 years, and the terrorization and intimidation of the local populations living in areas controlled by rival gangs.”

The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, has warned of the gangs’ impact on children’s education.

“In Haiti, 500,000 children have lost access to education due to gang-related violence,” it said on Friday. “Nearly 1,700 schools are currently closed in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince.”

“No child can go to school while bullets are flying in the air, it’s dangerous and it shouldn’t be like this,” said Bruno Maes, the UNICEF representative to Haiti.

The UN office in Haiti has also expressed concern over children being recruited into the armed gangs.

The Haitian government has not yet commented on the latest outbreak of violence which has placed the capital in a state of siege, preventing any safe exit by road to the rest of the country.

Last October, the powerful “400 Mawozo” gang abducted a group of 17 North American missionaries and their relatives, including five children.

The district where the violence has been centered is highly strategic: it contains the only road access to the country’s north as well as between Haiti’s capital and the Dominican Republic.

Since June, authorities have also lost control of the only road connecting Port-au-Prince to the south. For a stretch of two kilometers (1.2 miles), the highway is completely under the control of armed criminals from the slums of Martissant.

Gangs in Martissant have also forced Doctors Without Borders, an international medical nonprofit, to close a hospital it had been running there for 15 years.

AFP

Female Suicide Bomber Uses Baby As Decoy

Villagers "Catch" Suicide Bomber Near UNIMAIDResidents of Madagali, a town in Adamawa state, north east Nigeria, are still expressing shock over a recent attack by a female suicide bomber who strapped to her back in an attempt to use the infant as a decoy before blowing herself up.

The UN children’s agency, the UNICEF, says, the attack, believed to have been carried out by the Boko Haram group, is the first incident involving a baby reported in north east Nigeria.

Reacting to the issue, a UNICEF spokeswoman in the region, Dr. Dounce Porter, said “we are extremely worried about the use of a baby in this callous way”.

Eyewitness account said the woman with a baby and two girls all struck the market at the same time in a coordinated attack which left six killed and 17 others wounded.

The suicide bombing bore the hallmark of Jihadist operations which are very common in northern Nigeria.

So far, no fewer than 19 children mainly young girls have been used in several other suicide attacks.

Tambuwal Advocates Improved Girl Child Education

tambuwal-on-electionThe Sokoto state government is set to convey a stakeholder’s conference to improve girl child education in the state.

The Governor, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, disclosed this to journalists in Ilorin shortly after his private visit to the Kwara state Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed.

Tambuwal said the government was collaborating with the UNICEF and the Sultan foundation in Sokoto, to organise the conference, that would address challenges confronting the state education sector, particularly for the girl child.

According to him, a bill had been forwarded to the state House Of Assembly to establish an education agency with a view to improving school enrollment and strengthen the state’s policy on education.

Furthermore, he explained that the government’s efforts in deploying information and communication technology infrastructure in key sectors, earned it the best government in e-governance in Nigeria, by the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency recently.

Obi Signs 2013 Unicef Programme Implementation Agreement

The Governor of Anambra state,  Mr. Peter Obi has signed the Programme Implementation Agreement (PIA) with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the year 2013.

At the signing ceremony which took place at the governor’s lodge, the state received commendations from the UNICEF Chief of A-Field Office, Enugu, Mr. Charles Nzuki, for strong commitment and leadership in the 2012 UNICEF Programme Implementation.

The state Governor, Mr. Peter Obi who said his administration will not relent in its effort in achieving the MDG’s also disclosed that the programme for the year 2013 costs N272 million and will be targeted at projects spanning across water, sanitation and immunization.

It was said that the agreement will guide the implementation of UNICEF programmes across the state in various sectors.

While UNICEF is intervening with N172 milliona, Anambra state government is paying a counterpart contribution of N1million. In addition, emergency financial interventions from other donor agencies are expected.

The chief of A-Field office, Enugu, commended the strong commitment and leadership of the state government in its implementation of UNICEF programme in the out gone year and for this year, emphasis is on water, sanitation and immunization.

Recalling the giant strides of the state in UNICEF programme implementation for the year 2012, the Chief Authorizing Officer for UNICEF and EU programmes and commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning noted that the partnership has indeed improved the lot of the people of the state especially the children.

The state governor stated that his administration will continue to fulfill its part of the bargain in order to ensure that the welfare of the people and especially the children is maintained.