© Helvetas
Zurich – 19. February 2019

Violence in Haiti – Project Activities on Hold

© Helvetas

The demonstrations that began in Haiti last week have been the most violent since 2004 when the then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced into exile. Today, people are protesting against corruption and embezzlement within the government. The security situation is alarming, with looting and violence reported in the capital Port-au-Prince and other cities. Helvetas has now temporarily put on hold its project activities.

27.2.2019: The situation in Haiti has now calmed down and all Helvetas employees in Haiti have resumed their work.

Helvetas is concerned about the safety of its Haitian staff and has instructed them to stay at home. Traveling from the capital to the project areas is too dangerous. The economic and political situation in Haiti has been tense for a long time and has now worsened.

At the end of January, Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors published an investigation according to which a loan of two billion dollars from Venezuela (PetroCaribe Fund) had been embezzled by previous governments. The money should have been used to build houses, bridges and roads after the earthquake. However, despite the signed contracts, nothing was built. The current president, Jovenel Moïse, is also accused of illicit enrichment. This accusation was the straw that broke the camel's back and drove thousands of Haitians into the streets to express their anger.

The population and the opposition are demanding the resignation of the president, but he confirms his stand to remain in office. Over the weekend, the government announced emergency economic and anti-corruption measures, in particular, to cut privileges for senior officials. It is unclear whether these promises will be followed by actions. No humanitarian response measures are currently being planned, especially as Haiti has not (yet) requested any international aid. It is difficult to say how the situation will develop.