Unrest in Haiti Halts Humanitarian efforts

A photograph of the author, Molly Mitchell.

By Molly Mitchell

February 21, 2019

Unrest in Haiti Halts Humanitarian efforts

In the wake of a wave of civil unrest and violence that paralyzed much of Haiti for ten days, many hope that the worst is over but worry that more may be in store. In the meantime, humanitarian efforts have been paralyzed along with everything else, in a time when it’s needed more than ever.

Though the protests boiled over in response to denied demands for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, resentments have been simmering for a long time due to the ongoing economic crisis in Haiti. Basic needs have long been too expensive to afford, and living conditions are desperate. The first iteration of these protests, known as “Operation Lock,” occurred in July of 2018 and focused on calls to lower fuel prices. Another iteration occured in November 2018, and this month’s third edition of Operation Lock aimed and succeeded at shutting the country’s national roads down with inflamed barricades, and schools, offices, stores and virtually every aspect of life came to a grinding halt. With public and private life unable to continue as normal, humanitarian needs such as food, water and healthcare became more needed but even more difficult to fulfill.

For Heifer’s work in Haiti, distributions planned for February 6, 2019, were canceled due to tensions in Les Cayes that were already brewing. Grande Anse, a region where Heifer Haiti also works, was also affected by the unrest, but our work continued normally in a few remote areas. On February 18, trainings were postponed because of the prevailing instability. Regarding staff security, the instructions to stay at home were very clear and the situation is constantly monitored.

Heifer Haiti’s office in Port-au-Prince reopened February 19 along with most other public and private institutions as life in Haiti cautiously resumed. Unfortunately, the climate of political tension and dour economic outlook continues. According to Claire Emmanuelle Pressoir, Heifer Haiti’s communication officer, “This situation creates a doubt and a stressful environment. All segments of the population are affected in their own way by this growing instability.”

Read more about it: 
Miami Herald: For Haitians, a reprieve from violence and protests on Sunday, but uncertainty remains
PBS Newshour: Violent protests in Haiti may mean a humanitarian crisis

Story written in collaboration with Claire Emmanuelle Pressoir
Top photo: Enise Chery (6) and Ketna Cadet (5) hold chickens their family recieved as part of one of Heifer's development projects in Haiti.