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Aid group closes hospital in Haiti amid spike in violence


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Doctors Without Borders announced on Wednesday that it had been forced to temporarily close its hospital in Cite Soleil due to a surge in gang violence that has left dozens dead in recent weeks.

The slum – one of the largest in the capital Port-au-Prince – has been the scene of repeated clashes between gangs.

“We’re looking at a war scene just yards from our hospital,” said Vincent Harris, the aid group’s adviser.

Officials noted that large numbers of stray bullets have hit hospital grounds and that it is nearly impossible for the sick and injured to reach the facility for care.

The organization added that staff at another nearby hospital have admitted up to 10 times the usual number of people with gunshot wounds in recent days.

Human rights activists have said that from February 24 to March 4 in one part of the capital alone, more than 60 people were killed and dozens more kidnapped.

Gangs have continued to fight for more territory and wield more power since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Prime Minister Ariel Henry has repeatedly asked the international community for the deployment of foreign troops, a request that has gone unanswered since October.

Instead, several countries have imposed sanctions and sent military equipment to help Haiti’s national police force, which is severely under-resourced and understaffed. More than a dozen police officers have been killed so far this year.

Maarten Boute, the chairman of Digicel in Haiti, tweeted on Monday that the situation in Port-au-Prince has become “increasingly desperate”.

“Armed gangs now roam freely throughout the capital,” he wrote. “No one is safe. Despair sets in. We need help!”

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