White House Monitors Haiti Crisis, As State Of Emergency Shut Schools And Banks


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Washington/Port-au-Prince: The White House said on Monday it was watching the growing crisis in Haiti with "great concern," as authorities imposed a state of emergency after a mass prison break.

"We're monitoring Haiti's rapidly deteriorating security situation with great concern," US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in a call.

Haiti's schools and banks shut on Monday with residents only venturing out for essentials, after authorities declared a state of emergency to try to regain control following an attack on a prison that freed thousands of inmates.

The prison break came in a new spate of extreme violence in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, where armed gangs who control much of the city have wreaked havoc since last week.

The gangs say they want to oust Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has led the crisis-wracked Caribbean nation since the assassination of president Jovenel Moise in 2021.

An AFP reporter said some locals were on the street looking to buy water and fuel the morning after the state of emergency and a nighttime curfew was declared.

About a dozen people died in the violence at the National Penitentiary in the capital on Saturday night, the reporter observed, with only a few of the estimated 3,800 inmates still inside the facility.

In a statement late Sunday, the Haitian government said security forces would "use all legal means at their disposal to enforce the curfew and detain those who violate it."

It said the government would "re-establish order and take the appropriate measures to take back control."

PM still abroad?

Powerful gang leader Jimmy Cherisier, known by the nickname Barbecue, said in a video posted on social media that the armed groups were acting in concert "to get Prime Minister Ariel Henry to step down."

It was not immediately clear if Henry had returned to Haiti after a trip to Kenya.

The UN Security Council in October approved an international police support mission to Haiti that Nairobi had agreed to lead, but a Kenyan court ruling has thrown its future into doubt.

On Friday, Henry signed an accord in Nairobi with Kenyan President William Ruto on deploying the force.

Haiti, the Western hemisphere's poorest nation, has been in turmoil for years, and the 2021 presidential assassination plunged the country further into chaos.

No elections have taken place since 2016 and the presidency remains vacant.

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