SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Doctors Without Borders announced on Wednesday the temporary closure of its hospital in Cité Soleil, Haiti, forced by the sharp increase in gang violence that has claimed dozens of lives in recent weeks.
The poor neighborhood, one of the largest in the capital Port-au-Prince, has been the scene of repeated clashes between gangs.
“We were watching a scene of war a few meters from our hospital,” says Vincent Harris, adviser to the NGO.
Leaders have observed that a large number of stray bullets have hit the hospital and that it is nearly impossible for the sick and injured to arrive for treatment.
The organization added that in recent days staff at a nearby hospital reported up to 10 times the usual number of people with gunshot wounds.
Human rights activists said that between February 24 and March 4, there were more than 60 deaths in a single district of the capital, along with dozens of hostages.
The gangs have continued to fight over territory and seize power since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Prime Minister Ariel Henry has urged the international community to send in foreign troops, but has received no response since October .
Instead, several countries have imposed sanctions and sent supplies to under-resourced and understaffed national police. More than a dozen police officers have been killed so far this year.
Maarten Boute, president of Digicel in Haiti, tweeted on Monday that the situation is becoming “more and more desperate” in Port-au-Prince.
“Armed groups roam freely in the capital,” he wrote. “No one is safe. Despair is setting in. We need help!”.
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