“The Days of People in Haiti Are Numbered”: Voices from Haiti Amid Spiraling Violence and Humanitarian Catastrophe

13 March 2024

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s announced resignation amid escalating gang violence and lawlessness underscores continued uncertainty for a country in chaos. An estimated 1 million Haitian children are now unable to attend school and a surge in violence, including murders, kidnappings, and sexual violence, are affecting the entire population. Half of the population, approximately 5.5 million people, are in need of urgent assistance while the number of internally displaced people skyrockets.

Mercy Corps Country Director for Haiti, Laurent Uwumuremyi, says:

“Residents of Port-au-Prince have been reduced to forced nomads, constantly moving between neighborhoods, seeking refuge with relatives or strangers, or residing in temporary shelters. Their lives are plagued by food insecurity, overcrowding, and uncertainty as they lose their homes and livelihoods and are separated from their families. 

“Fear permeates every corner as volatility defines existence: one day alive, the next day facing death; gunfire and stray bullets as the new normal. No one is spared as bandits reign unchecked, leaving nearly everyone shattered, disheartened, and scarred by violence."

Two Mercy Corps program participants in Port-au-Prince share their experience:

Marie Love Elucien, 25 years old, displaced from Carrefour-Feuilles, shopkeeper, mother of a young child, says:

 “When Carrefour-Feuilles was stormed by armed gangs, I lost my house and my business, which meant everything to me. I now live in Delmas 31 with my daughter at one of my cousins' houses. To tell the truth, I'm not comfortable, but I must because it’s better than the shelter where my daughter almost died of a cold. Back in Carrefour-Feuilles, there were five of us in the house (me, my husband, my daughter, my sister-in-law, and her son). But, following the invasion of the armed gangs, we are scattered, each of us was forced to go and live with different people.

"I’m depressed and I’m tired of having nowhere to go. I live in fear. I’m tired of sleeping under the beds every time there is a shooting, afraid that bullets will pierce the walls of where I live with my daughter. The insecurity there leaves me speechless, and I can't do anything about it. This situation destabilizes me and kills me slowly. What I fear most right now has to do with my daughter. I'm worried she's going to have a fit and become paralyzed because every time she hears the shots she jumps and screams; that really scares me. She cries incessantly and no one can touch her; she becomes hysterical and uncontrollable.”

Gina Antoine, 43 years old, displaced from Carrefour-Feuilles, mother of three children and 2 months pregnant, says: 

“Currently, in Haiti, we live like monsters where people's lives don't mean anything. We face inhumane situations daily, walking among corpses. Gangs can attack at any moment. I don't know when my turn will come in this insecurity, especially since I've nearly died during gang invasions. The days of people in Haiti are numbered. 

“Before coming here, I had already been to three other places: a friend's house in Delmas 18, a relative's house in Diquini, and a temporary shelter. So, I'm like a bird, vanishing from place to place. And I can't run alone. I am responsible for my three daughters and my father, who was disabled after a heart attack.

 “The current situation in the country is depressing, especially because I am pregnant, diabetic, and hypertensive. I can't help but feel overwhelmed. These days, gunfire is heard almost every day, and each time, it feels like my heart is going to stop. What worries me most right now is the possibility of gangs taking over the neighborhood where I live. That would be devastating. I wouldn't be able to flee anymore. In fact, I'm exhausted from constantly moving between neighborhoods to escape armed gangs. I don't have the strength anymore; I can't endure it any longer. I have nowhere else to go. I wish everything could return to normal."

From 2022 to 2024, Mercy Corps has been providing emergency cash assistance to 32,500 people in Haiti and more than 700 small businesses in three departments, including Port-au-Prince. Since 2019, Mercy Corps has also been working to reduce violence and help young people pursue opportunities through financial inclusion and life skills training for more than 8,000 adolescents. Mercy Corps has worked in Haiti since 2010 to meet urgent needs through cash assistance, boost small businesses and entrepreneurs, build up young people’s skills to become productive, peaceful and active members of their communities, help communities better prepare for disasters, and improve the incomes and harvests, food security and practices of rural farmers. 


For more information please contact: 

  • Roberta Alves, Deputy Director of Communications (based in Washington, D.C.) at ralves@mercycorps.org
  • Our full media team is reachable at allmediarelations@mercycorps.org