Haiti: 300k Flee Capital as Gangs Free Hundreds of Prisoners (Photos)

by Ohepo Ohepo

A significant jailbreak occurred at a prison in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, following an assault by armed groups that have been causing chaos in the city since Thursday. This wave of aggression has hit the city’s international airport, various police precincts, and the National Penitentiary prison.

The turmoil escalates as gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, also known as “Barbecue,” vows to remove the country’s interim prime minister, Ariel Henry. Cherizier, a former officer turned gang leader who is currently under sanctions by both the United Nations and the US Department of Treasury, made a public appeal on Friday. He urged the Haitian military and police force to “take action” and detain Mr. Henry, who has been in office following the murder of the previous president, Jovenel Moise, in 2021.

According to CNN, Mr. Henry had committed to organizing elections by no later than August 2025. Meanwhile, gang dominion in Port-au-Prince has led to over 300,000 residents being displaced due to rampant violence, including murders and sexual assaults.

The National Police Syndicate of Haiti, one of the nation’s police unions, expressed on X (formerly Twitter) that failing to halt the prisoner exodus would spell disaster. The post warned of an additional 3,000 criminals potentially being set free and called for all law enforcement officers to help restore order to the prison.

The UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office has reiterated its advice against all travel to Haiti, a country that has seen continuous upheaval in recent times. The UN has recently declared January as the deadliest month in years, with an estimated 1,100 fatalities.

Amidst the unrest on Thursday, operations at Toussaint Louverture International Airport were halted due to nearby shootings. Additionally, several fire stations in the city have been destroyed by arson, and employees have been seen extinguishing fires at the offices of Haiti’s electricity company, which were also attacked by protesters.

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