News & Updates

Haiti’s Latest Crisis

News about Haiti’s latest crisis has recently caught the attention of our National News, competing with the other stories of war and violence, death and suffering, and of course politics. It seems that only earthquakes, coups, hurricanes, assassinations and the current critical situation that Haiti now faces is the only time we bother to acknowledge the country. Decades of their daily struggle to survive one more day for the majority of Haitians doesn’t seem to be spectacular enough to be newsworthy! This is just a glimpse of their present reality:

Eileen Coleman and Denise Desil
Sister Eileen Coleman, IHM and 
Sister Denise Désil, PSST 

Haiti’s gang war death toll doubled to nearly 5,000 in a year, the UN reports. “Gang killings, kidnappings and sexual violence, notably against women and young girls, among other abuses, continue with widespread impunity” UN Secretary General Guterres said in the report. More than 33,000 people have fled Haiti’s capital in a span of nearly two weeks, while another 17,000 are left homeless as gangs continue to pillage homes and attack state institutions. 90% of the capital is now controlled by gangs with basic errands impossible, key infrastructure closed, shortages in basic supplies and hospitals on the brink of collapse. 90% of those who left, went to the southern part of Haiti which already has become home to another 116,000 who have fled in the previous months and the area doesn’t have the infrastructure nor resources to cope with this massive displacement.

“Rising hunger is fueling the security crisis that is shattering the country. We need urgent action now – waiting to respond at scale is not an option,” Jean-Martin Bauer, the World Food Programme’s Haiti director, said. Almost half of Haiti’s people are struggling to feed themselves as gang violence spreads across the country, with several areas close to famine, international organizations said recently. Inflation and poor harvests have also helped push Haiti to its worst levels of food insecurity on record, they said. The WFP warned that Haiti was now suffering its worst levels of food insecurity on record, with many people resorting to desperate measures as armed groups take over farmlands and steal crops.

A recent email from Sister Denise indicates that although the sisters at the Motherhouse, which is approximately 12 miles from the capital are relatively safe, as long as they don’t leave, it is becoming more and more difficult to avoid the violence and lack of basic needs, especially food. However, she said she heard “the gangs want to make peace and ask people pardon for the bad things they have done to the population.” She added that Guy Philippe, whom she referred to as “our” leader “wants to give them amnesty if they tell the truth about where to find the guns and who gives them these arms.

I did some research on Guy Philippe only to find that he and two other men want to run for President, when and if the Prime Minister Henry resigns, (Henry is presently in Puerto Rico, afraid and unable to return to Haiti) they establish a Transitional Presidential Council and they hold Presidential Elections. Oh, and did I mention that all three just happen to be the leaders of three different gangs in Haiti?

It is important to realize that no mass media exists in Haiti. There is no “breaking news” or political ads that will appear on their non-existing TVs, computers, iPads, smart watches, or cell phones. And even if a newspaper has survived, over 60% of Haitians over 15 are illiterate. Voilà le problème! It seems that their primary means of information is word of mouth and even under the best of conditions, this method only complicates and augments their current dire situation.

I realize this article if filled with many facts and statistics, which can at times be just sterile words on paper, and seems to mirror so many parts of our broken, wounded world. However, my hope is that it will remind and encourage you to keep the people of Haiti and especially the Little Sisters, who daily sacrifice so much to serve the poorest of poor, and perhaps the most forgotten as well, in your prayers and if possible in your charitable contributions. Let us pray: “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high will break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Donations can be made for the Little Sisters in Haiti to the IHM Development Office at the IHM Center, 2300 Adams Ave, Scranton, PA 18509. Mark the donation for “Haiti.”

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