Global perspective Human stories

Haiti: $21 million appeal to help thousands displaced by gang violence

Gang violence in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, has forced people to seek shelter in safer places.
Gang violence in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, has forced people to seek shelter in safer places.

Haiti: $21 million appeal to help thousands displaced by gang violence

UN Affairs

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government of Haiti are appealing for $21 million to ensure better protection and shelter conditions for tens of thousands of newly displaced people in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

“Displacement severely risks the health, food and economic security of people, exposes them to gender-based violence, and puts pressure on local infrastructure and social cohesion within host communities,” Philippe Branchat, IOM Chief of Mission in Haiti said on Tuesday.

Surging gang violence

Surging gang violence in Carrefour-Feuilles and Savanes Pistaches neighbourhoods in Port-au-Prince, have led many to flee their homes.

Increasingly, they are settling in improvised sites rather than host communities and families, where they face additional vulnerabilities.

“Many families cannot meet their basic needs. Inadequate shelter and crowded living conditions further exacerbate tensions, contributing to violence and increasing the risk of sexual assault,” IOM said.

Precarious living conditions

Nearly 200,000 people are now internally displaced in Haiti, of which roughly 70,000 find themselves in inadequate and precarious spontaneous settlements and collective centres, 31,000 are sleeping in the open air and 34,000 are crammed into classrooms, according to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).

“When the shooting started, I left my neighborhood with my son,” a woman living in one displacement site told IOM. “I had to find us a place to shelter quickly. I found the Lycée Jean-Marie Vincent; it lacks space in the classrooms, and when it rains, we sleep standing up in the rain.”

Humanitarian efforts

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IOM and the Haitian government are co-leading the activation of the Shelter Cluster, which brings together governmental actors, UN agencies, and local and international NGOs.  

Cluster partners are accelerating efforts to distribute blankets, mats, water storage containers, emergency shelter kits, and kitchen sets to 70,000 people. In total, 53 collective centres for displaced people will receive equipment and repairs, and cash assistance will be provided to 130,000 people living with host families.  

IOM also assists the most vulnerable people to move from displacement sites to more adequate housing.

Emergency tracking

To aid efficiencies in the delivery of assistance, IOM operates a Common Pipeline mechanism in Haiti, making core relief items available to partners.

The prolonged crisis has exhausted host families' capacity to support displaced persons, leading to secondary displacement and increased vulnerabilities.

In six months, the percentage of displaced people staying with host families has fallen from 75 per cent to 55 per cent, while the number in collective centres has risen from 25 per cent to 45 per cent.

Further exacerbating the situation, over 115,000 Haitians have been forcibly returned from neighbouring countries, many lacking proper identification, thus complicating their reintegration.  

IOM data shows that nearly 22 per cent of those repatriated were previously displaced within Haiti, highlighting the need for sustainable, long-term solutions to internal displacement.

“While immediate life-saving assistance is critical, accelerating progress in addressing the root causes of displacement remains an urgent task,” the UN agency said.