Thousands of Inmates Escape in Haiti

Thousands of Inmates Escape in Haiti

( – Thousands of prisoners recently escaped from Haitian prisons. The nation instituted a state of emergency and a nighttime curfew after armed gangs stormed two jails and allowed criminals, including murderers, back onto the streets of the already crime-racked country. Finance Minister Patrick Boisvert said the government would use all legal means at its disposal to recapture the escaped criminals.

The prison break comes amid a violent spiral that has left several people dead and prompted the US government to advise American citizens to leave. Jimmy Chérizier, known as Barbecue, has claimed responsibility for much of the violence and said he aims to capture senior police and government ministers and prevent the return of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who is abroad seeking a UN-backed security force to restore stability.

Witnesses reported dead bodies at the entrance to the prisons and empty cells throughout. An attorney who works inside Haiti’s jails said fewer than 100 of almost 4,000 inmates remained. Francisco Uribe, who remained in jail, said people had been massacred in their cells.

On March 5, the country’s situation further deteriorated when armed militants attempted to take control of its main international airport and traded gunshots with police and security services. The Toussaint Louverture International Airport was closed at the time, but the attack followed a hail of gunfire aimed at its transport hub a week previously.

According to Aljazeera, gangs are reported to control up to 80% of the capital city, Port-au-Prince, and more than 800,000 people were reportedly displaced by escalating violence, which is described as unprecedented by some officials.

Mr. Henry, who took the reins following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021, was due to hold elections by early February, but these did not materialize, prompting protests across the country.

The Prime Minister said his government is working with security services to restore stability, but in an address, gang leader Chérizier described Henry as the enemy of the Haitian people and urged police to arrest him “for the country’s liberation.”

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