Thousands of people were trapped in the Haitian town of Cite Soleil following gang violence, international aid group Doctors Without Borders said.
Local officials said dozens of people died in four days of gang battles in Cite Soleil’s Brooklyn neighborhood. Cite Soleil lies on the outskirts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and has a population of around 250,000.
Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French name Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), warned in a statement that those trapped in Brooklyn do not have access to drinking water, food or medical care.
What is happening in Cite Soleil?
“Since July 8, when fighting broke out in Cite Soleil, residents have been unable to leave Brooklyn amid the clashes, and trucks of drinking water, which residents depend on, have been unable to enter,” MSF said.
“Along the only road into Brooklyn, we have encountered corpses that are decomposing or being burned,” MSF head of mission Mumuza Muhindo said. “They could be people killed during the clashes or people trying to leave who were shot — it is a real battlefield. It is not possible to estimate how many people have been killed.”
Muhindo urged the gangs to spare civilians and allow for the delivery of aid.
Pastor Jean Enock Joseph said residents have not been able to leave the area since fighting broke out.
“People can’t get through. Food can’t get through,” Joseph was cited by Reuters as saying. “We are in a serious situation from a humanitarian standpoint.”
Soaring gang violence
Gang violence has soared since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last year, and turf wars between rival gangs have become more frequent.
The mayor of Cite Soleil said more than 50 people have been killed since Friday. On Tuesday, the United Nations said violence is forcing it to move food aid and workers out of Port-au-Prince.
The World Food Program (WFP) said on Tuesday that it set up a ferry service that carries food aid from Port-au-Prince to other parts of the country and is also using short flights for its workers.
sdi/sms (AP, Reuters)