MSF shuts hospital in Haiti over gang violence

A man carries his son as they look for cover after leaving school amid gang violence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti March 3, 2023.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders says gang violence in Haiti’s capital has forced the temporary closure of its hospital in Port-au-Prince.

It said that patients and staff at its facility in the Cité Soleil district had been put at risk.

Haitians looking for treatment had become collateral victims of warfare just metres from the hospital, it said.

Gang violence and kidnappings in Haiti have risen sharply since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in 2021.

The Caribbean nation has been facing a growing economic crisis.

The charity, commonly known by its French abbreviation MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières), made the move after heavily armed gangs expanded their territory to new areas in Port-au-Prince and nearby towns.

Several schools have also closed as kidnappings increase.

Earlier this year, an MSF-backed public hospital located south of the capital also closed after a patient was killed by a bullet as he left the emergency room.

Cité Soleil, an impoverished neighbourhood on the outskirts of Haiti’s capital, now has just one private hospital and one other MSF operation, which is reducing operations.

Vincent Harris, a medical adviser for the aid group, said: “We are living scenes of warfare just meters [yards] from the establishment.

“Our hospital has not been directly targeted but we have been a collateral victim of the fighting since the hospital found itself on the frontline.”

Field communication manager Alexandre Marcou said a child who was on oxygen had died in a security room, where patients are sent for protection from gunfire around the building.

A 70-year-old man had also been found shot as he tried to cross the street to the hospital.

Haiti has been led by Prime Minister Ariel Henry since Moïse’s death, but he has failed to rein in the gangs which control much of the capital.

Mr Henry has repeatedly called for the deployment of an international force to help police in their fight against the criminal gangs. So far, no country has offered to lead such a force, while Mr Henry says it is key to providing security so that long-postponed elections can be held.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s