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Photos | The U.S. Embassy in Haiti denies any involvement in the dispersal of the crowd


In front of the American embassy, transformed into an open-air dwelling, dozens of families, who escaped death, took up residence before the PNH intervened on Tuesday

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Armed gangs took over the neighborhoods of Galèt, Dumorné, and Twitye on Sunday, July 23, 2023. Several people were mercilessly killed, according to witnesses.

Panic-stricken, the inhabitants of these areas – including babies and young children – hastily fled their homes to seek refuge on the side of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, located nearby.

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They were violently driven away on Tuesday, July 25, by agents of the Haitian National Police (PNH) using tear gas.

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On Monday, July 24, on the roadside in front of the buildings housing the U.S. consulate, Marie, a woman of a venerable age, expresses her distress. Worry permeates her voice and her every sentence. Like many others, she hastily left her home in Dumorné to escape the deadly madness of armed men who stormed the locality and the houses there.

« The attack began around eleven in the morning, » Marie explains. « The gangs invaded the neighborhood. They entered homes, killed, and stole people’s cell phones, » recounts the woman.

Since the attack, Marie has had no news of her children. She lost track of them in the frenzy of the escape.

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« I can’t close my eyes, » the lady blurts out, her voice broken.

Marie is part of a long list of individuals and families that have been displaced by the gangs.

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In front of the American embassy, transformed into an open-air dwelling, dozens of families, who escaped death, took up residence before the PNH intervened on Tuesday. Young children could be seen perched on their mothers’ backs. Others, holding water containers, staring blankly, took their places on the railings when they weren’t nonchalantly slouching on the ground, alongside plastic bags stuffed with clothes taken at whim, the disorder of which reflected the haste with which they were packed and the urgent need of the moment to leave a place marked by death and bullets.

« We are about fifteen who fled, » recounts Ange Dorcénat. « Me, along with fourteen of my sons and grandsons. »

During the hostilities, Dorcénat holed up in her home, face down, with her entire family for hours on end. Thanks to an armored vehicle randomly passing by the neighborhood, she managed to escape, her children in tow.

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Sunday was a very trying day for the residents of the three aforementioned localities. Early in the morning, a heavily armed group of men, as described by Larry, a resident of Dumorné, passed through Tapaj, transited through Galèt, and then over Saint Vincent de Paul street to invade Dumorné.

« Several people in the area were severely injured where they were not killed in cold blood. A pregnant woman was murdered. Some were taken to emergency centers, » highlights Belinda Emilien, who resides in Galèt and is also among those who fled.

The attack took place less than 500 meters away from the American embassy.

Since the beginning of the offensive, the streets bordering the diplomatic mission have been devoid of all life. Apart from isolated cases of minibusses and people venturing into the area with difficulty, only the lush vegetation accompanied the crackling of bullets.

The next day, in front of the embassy buildings, nerves were on edge, and panic was evident on people’s faces. A Catholic priest distributed some biscuits and water to the displaced.

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Unlike other victims, Dieudonné, a resident of Dumorné, doesn’t mince words. According to him, it is inconceivable that these neighborhoods suffer an armed attack when they are just a few steps away from the American embassy.

« The attack was carried out right under the noses of the armored vehicles of the PNH that patrolled the streets adjacent to the consulate, and nothing was done, » laments Dieudonné, with a barely contained anger in his voice. « It’s a plot to force us to leave the country, » interprets the man.

In an interview with AyiboPost, the people who experienced the tragedy testify that this is not the first time these localities have faced armed attacks.

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In December 2022, an impromptu intrusion of armed men resulted in the death of several people, including children, pregnant women, and others. « But now, it’s much worse. They are not attacking these areas individually. All three were targeted on the same day, » concludes a resident.

Many of the people who fled the wrath of the gangs have fragile health, like Marie who was shivering with a fever during her interview.

As of the date of publication of this article, the authorities of the Haitian government have not reacted.

Contacted by AyiboPost, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti states that it is in no way involved in the forceful intervention of the Haitian National Police to evacuate the displaced people. « The U.S. Embassy did not request the crowd be dispersed, » says the consular representation.

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An embassy security officer displayed hostility towards journalists, as observed by AyiboPost. Using threatening language, he forbade image capturing.

Lire aussi : Pour le journaliste haïtien, la violence vient d’abord de la police

In recent times, the massacres and related attacks have become commonplace in Haiti. This is illustrated by incidents like the ones in the working-class neighborhoods of La Saline on November 13, 2019, and Bel-Air from November 4 to 8, 2019, where more than twenty people were lynched like beasts of burden.

By Jean Feguens Regala & Junior Legrand

Wethzer Piercin contributed to this report.

English translation by Sarah Jean

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Photojournaliste freelance à AyiboPost depuis mars 2023.