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Confronting chaos in Haiti


WORLD Radio - Confronting chaos in Haiti

Kenya will lead a multinational effort to neutralize the gangs and set up a transitional government

Haitian police officer controls the area around the National Palace in Port-au-Prince on May 1. Getty Images/Photo by Clarens Siffroy/AFP

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 28th of May, 2024.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

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REICHARD: First up on The World and Everything in It: confronting chaos in Haiti.

Last week, American missionaries Davy and Natalie Lloyd were murdered by gangs in Haiti. Their deaths follow months of social and political unraveling in that country and a multinational plan to address it.

EICHER: WORLD Reporter Travis Kircher spoke with a human rights expert about the latest efforts to bring Haitian gangs under control.

TIMOTHY LAURITO: This morning we’re going to forego the birthdays and the normal introduction that we have…

TRAVIS KIRCHER: Reverend Timothy Laurito of Bible Holiness Assembly of God Church in Neosho, Missouri was somber in his service opening this Sunday. Sound here from the service livestream, as Laurito remembers two of his younger congregants.

LAURITO: This past week – Thursday night – we received the tragic news of the passing of Davy and Natalie Lloyd in Haiti.

The Lloyds were a recently married American couple in their early 20s who were working as full-time missionaries in Haiti. After leaving a church function on Thursday evening, they were ambushed by gangs and shot to death.

The UN estimates that more than 2,500 people have been killed or injured in Haiti in just the first three months of this year.

In a written statement, the U.S. State Department told WORLD it reached out to the Lloyds’ families to offer its sincere condolences. The department added, “the security situation in Haiti cannot wait – too many innocent lives are being lost.

JEAN MARC BRISSAU: This news broke my heart.

That’s Jean Marc Brissau, a staff attorney for the Notre Dame Law School Global Human Rights Clinic. Brissau was born in Haiti and much of his family still lives there. He says gangs are destroying his country – and while they may be pushing any new Haitian government for amnesty, he wants them prosecuted and jailed.

BRISSAU: Why would you amnesty someone who had raped your daughter – kidnap your son, and destroy the economy of the whole country, you know? Destroy schools, hospitals, pharmacies, everything.

But disrupting the roughly 300 gangs in Haiti may prove to be a more difficult challenge than anticipated. The UN estimates 80 percent of the capital city is now under gang control. Earlier this month, gangs seized a police station in the community of Gressier in western Port-au-Prince. U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the situation on Thursday.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: This is a crisis. It's able to be dealt with, and we think we can be dealt with this way, with a multinational approach, with Haiti leading the way, and us providing intelligence and as well as equipment.

The U.S. is contributing $300 million to a multinational force of 2,500 troops, led by Kenya. Their goal? To help secure the Haitian capital so that the newly appointed transitional government can take power. In addition to the main force of 1,000 Kenyans, troops from Jamaica, the Bahamas, and other countries will join the ranks.

Speaking from the White House last week, Kenyan President William Ruto pledged that this coalition of nations would collaborate:

PRESIDENT RUTO: …to secure that country and to break the back of the gangs and the criminals that have visited untold suffering in that country.

The first 200 Kenyan troops were scheduled to be deployed this week, but that’s been delayed until later next month due to logistical issues. And Brissau has his concerns that 2,500 troops won’t be enough to uproot the gangs.

BRISSAU: I mean, you’re gonna just focus on Port au Prince, but the gangs -- they are not dumb. They will not stay in Port au Prince. They will go around the country. It is easy to have to just put the gun somewhere and then go mingle into the population and then start all over again.

He also questions if the Haitian police will be willing to work with the international troops, especially given their unequal salaries. Brissau says the average police officer in Haiti makes only the equivalent of 200 dollars per month.

BRISSAU: It's not just importing the troop from elsewhere to support your police, but also supporting your police to have, you know, pay them a good salary. If you're paying the troops seven – I mean, $1,500 – give the police at least half.

But amid the uncertainty, a ray of hope.

Last week, Haiti’s only international airport reopened in the capital city of Port-au-Prince for the first time since gang violence shut it down nearly three months ago. Brissau says it’s a welcome first step if it lasts.

BRISSAU: We are really hoping that it remains open so that us from abroad could travel back home to see our families, to see people. But I don’t know how long that will take because the gangs – they still have control of most of Port-au-Prince.

Once the gangs are neutralized and the transitional government is in place, preparations can be made for countrywide elections in 2026.

MUSIC: [God is in the Details]

For now, as a worship team sings, a Missouri church family continues to mourn. But not as the world mourns. And though Brissau didn’t know the Lloyds personally he still hurts for the families – and honors their sacrifice.

BRISSAU: Because they were helping my people, you know?

And he’s asking for prayer for the guidance of the future leaders of Haiti. So that one day, the country will be peaceful again, so the perpetrators of this crime can be brought to justice.

BRISSAU: It's one more crime that should not have happened. And I really hope that God bring, bring comfort to this family. So one more, one too much.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Travis Kircher.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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