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GOAL temporarily suspends aid programs in Port-au-Prince amid escalating violence, extreme civil unrest, and assault on the Haiti capital, for staff safety’s sake


March 9, 2024 • 2 min read

(Sat 9th March) The humanitarian crisis in Haiti reached a new level in the last week with confrontations between armed gangs, who already control swaths of the country, and the Haitian National Police, which intensified both in the capital, Port-au-Prince which has a population of 1.2M and in the regions. These most recent violent attacks in the conflict ravaged capital have so far forced 25,000 people to flee from their homes and by the of 2023, 310,000 were already internally displaced across Haiti.

GOAL has been operating in Haiti since the catastrophic earthquake in 2010 delivering basic humanitarian needs, community preparedness and resilience related programs. Then Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti in 2016 and the 2021 earthquake, brought even further destruction and devastation and even greater humanitarian need. By 2021, increasing political instability and rampant gang violence were also complicating dire levels of food insecurity and hunger as a cholera outbreak spread across the country, meaning 5.2 million people were in urgent need of assistance.

In April 2023, GOAL announced a major combined grant from USAID, Irish Aid , UNICEF, and ECHO to scale up a massive emergency response in Haiti, in the wake of this political instability, gang violence, cholera resurgence and dire levels of food insecurity and hunger, Since this announcement, the majority of GOAL’s work has been supporting communities in extreme crisis in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, and other programs in the Northwest and Southern Peninsula. Programs have focused on increasing access to safe drinking water, hygiene, and sanitation services, distributing vouchers to families to enable them to buy food and delivering safeguarding and protection related programs to prevent violence, abuse, and exploitation of young girls and women.

Speaking about the rapidly deteriorating security situation and escalating humanitarian emergency, Matt Knight, Country Director GOAL Haiti who is based in Port-au-Prince said,

‘As armed gangs rule the streets and as the state of emergency has been extended by a month, thousands of families have been displaced and cut off from lifesaving services. We have 78 staff on the GOAL Haiti team, but all staff are currently on lockdown and in hibernation. And we have had to suspend our aid programs as those programs were being delivered in some of the worst affected areas in Port-au-Prince such as Carrefour, Jeremie and Jean Rabel and we cannot guarantee staff safety at this point. However, we remain on standby to provide vital, lifesaving support in those key communities when we deem it safe to do so.’

Operations at Haiti’s main port in Port-au-Prince have also been suspended due to sabotage and vandalism and the international airport has been closed as soldiers repelled attempts by gunmen to seize it, last week. In addition, OCHA, the UN humanitarian affairs agency has warned that the country’s health system is nearing collapse.