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« My life as a child member of 5 Segonn in Village de Dieu »


AyiboPost collected testimonies from several children recruited by gangs. A parent complains about his daughter and son being members of an armed group

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The boy had little to eat in Martissant.

His mother-in-law could not help him finish his seventh year of basic schooling. He lived at her house, and the lady “beat him constantly.”

At ten years old, the boy ran away.

Three years later, the “5 Segonn” gang established in the area enlisted him.

« Don’t worry, I’ll take you under my wing, » said Johnson « Izo » André, the leader of the group specialized in kidnapping, to the young boy.

Within a few months, the boy came of age.

AyiboPost met him in a public institution in Martissant where an NGO intervenes to support child gang members.

He insisted he had a story to tell.

A tale of gunpowder.

Of blood.

And unsettled grief.


According to a statement by a United Nations entity, children represent 30 to 40% of the total number of gangs in the country.

An AyiboPost source involved in supporting child gang members considers these statistics exaggerated, but admits a solid presence of the latter in the armed gangs of Port-au-Prince.

“They commit most of the murders, » Camille Emmanuel, of the Komite pwoteksyon Timoun Site Letènèl (KPTSL), tells AyiboPost.

The committee provides psychosocial support to around 50 minors enrolled in armed groups in disadvantaged neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.

Read also: NGOs are offering fake guns as gifts in Haiti. These toys are no longer popular.


Gang recruitment of children is accelerating as the Kenyan-led armed force approaches, according to the Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM), a unit of the Haitian National Police (PNH).

A painting created by a child with the help of the KPTSL organization for a competition on “Child Protection” (Thursday, June 6, 2024). The scene shows a police officer helping a child cross a street, with a helicopter symbolizing the fear of the arrival of the Multinational Security Support Mission (MMAS).

For remuneration, these children serve as informants, spies, security guards, smugglers of firearms and ammunition, combattants or hostage takers, BPM reveals to AyiboPost.

Some also run errands, buy drugs, and participate in looting, road tolls and crimes in order to be promoted in the gang.

According to the head of the BPM, Harold Barreau, gang members sexually abuse young women within their ranks.


On this Thursday morning, the crackle of machine-gun fire resounded near the local organization’s building in Martissant, when a slender sixteen-year-old, reprimanded by the group facilitator assisting him, curtly retorted: “I am a chimè - bandit ! »

Since he’s been getting closer to the gangs in Martissant, the young man’s rhetoric has become increasingly agressive and his threats have escalated, according to those around him.

In the distance, dozens of excited children are having fun within the confines of this public building with its decrepit, formerly white walls.

Psychosocially assisted by the local organization which has been working in the neighborhood for around 10 years, the children come and go under the rays of a blazing sun, filtered by the dense foliage of the trees in the area.

For remuneration, these children serve as informants, spies, security guards, smugglers of firearms and ammunition, combatants, or hostage takers.

With his head down, another 14-year-old teenager, slender and dark-skinned, peacefully recounts how he runs errands for the Gran-Ravin gang.

He says he wants to become a pilot, but the violent explosions that punctuate his daily life have nothing to do with aeronautics.

“Friends constantly ask me to join the gang and to carry a weapon,” the  Bolosse district native […], confides to AyiboPost.

For this boy, death is a constant possibility.

A few months ago, he says he lost one of his comrades recruited by gangs, during a violent altercation with a third friend, also recruited by criminal groups.

“It hurt me to see him die like that,” breathes the young man, his shoulders sagging.


The descent of children into destructive gang violence also affects their parents.

Like a father of four whose daughter and son, aged 17, were recruited last year by “5 Segonn,” which is led by the drug trafficker Izo.

According to this man who has lived for eight years in Fort Sainte-Clair, in the heart of Port-au-Prince, the children were looking for a means of subsistence that he “could not provide for them.”

In March 2024, the “Viv ansanm” gang coalition destroyed his small informal car washing business in the lower part of town, plunging him further into precariousness.

Read also: Construction work underway at Village de Dieu. Viv Ansanm is tearing down the lower part of Port-au-Prince.


“It hurts me, because I do not have the economic means to take my children back,” said the man, speaking of his two motherless children, from a displaced persons camp in Port-au-Prince.


Several factors push young people into the violent spiral of armed groups.

But with the explosion of the family unit, “socio-economic vulnerability makes them easy to exploit,” analyzes the police commissioner and head of the BPM, Harold Barreau.

Public and private initiatives to stem the phenomenon of child recruitment “remain insignificant,” according to Barreau.

Today, the BPM does not know how many children are part of gangs.

Sometimes the police apprehend adolescent members of criminal groups.

However, “there is [practically] no post-prison support intended” for the latter, notes Jude Chery, president of the Association of Volunteers for the Reintegration of Prisoners in Haiti (Avred-Haïti).

Also, the risk of recidivism remains high, according to Chery.

Read also: Minors, girls and prisoners from National Penitentiary forced into shared detention

The Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR) receives enlisted children brought in by the BPM to try to reunite them with their biological family, declares Arielle Jeanty Villedrouin, director of the institution.

An inter-institutional initiative in the field led by IBESR a year ago is slow to bear fruit.


The boy from Martissant, now a member of “5 Segonn” insists on telling his story.

A friend shot his younger brother in the head because he accused him of going out with his girlfriend, he says.

He and his brother are the sons of a mechanic from Grand-Rue in Port-au-Prince and a former shopkeeper.

“It breaks my heart,” he said in a hushed voice, avoiding gazes.

But “the turn of the one who killed my brother will come, because I will take revenge,” declares the teenager with frowning eyebrows. “And the one who made me cry must cry too,” he continues.

The child admits to having participated in several attacks.

For example, he took part in the destruction in the lower part of city alongside Izo’s soldiers after having contributed to the invasion of Carrefour-Feuilles in 2023 with the Grand-Ravin gang.

Read also: Pictures | Charred, downtown P-au-P left unrecognizable

Within the walls of this local organization in Martissant, adolescent gang members often hold the State responsible for their tragic destiny.

“My dream was to become a doctor, and I always told my mother,” the boy from Martissant told AyiboPost.

By Jérôme Wendy Norestyl

Cover image: Child playing football.  | © freepik

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Journaliste-rédacteur à AyiboPost, Jérôme Wendy Norestyl fait des études en linguistique. Il est fasciné par l’univers multimédia, la photographie et le journalisme.