Nearly 70% of Haitians support using international force against gangs, poll finds

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About seven in ten Haitians back the proposal to create an international force to help the national police combat violence by armed gangs that have expanded their territory since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, according to a January poll.

69% of nearly 1,330 people across Haiti said they supported an “international force” — which has been requested by the Haitian government — according to a survey by local enterprise risk management group Agerca and consultancy DDG.

However, the percentage rises to almost 80% when it comes to believing that the Haitian national police needed international support to solve the problem of armed gangs, and most said they should deploy immediately.

In October, the United Nations suggested sending a “rapid action force” to Haiti to combat escalating violence by armed gangs, whose turf battles have left hundreds dead and thousands displaced.

But many have expressed skepticism, citing abuses from previous missions and questioning whether a force is backing Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s government, which has been without democratically elected representatives since early January.

Most countries have been reluctant to send troops, though nearby Jamaica said Tuesday it would be willing to participate and El Salvador has offered “technical assistance.”

The U.N. envoy to Haiti, Helen La Lime, said last week she had heard caution from the United States and Canada, but “never a definitive no.”

“No one wants to repeat the mistakes of the past,” he said, adding that the force would work in partnership with the HNP.

More than a third of respondents said they had known someone from their neighborhood, family or workplace who had been killed since 2021. More than 70% said their movements in the capital had been limited by the presence of gangs and 83% said their income had been reduced.

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Some 36% said that since 2021 they or someone they knew had been the victim of a kidnapping, while 28% said this was the case with a physical assault, and 9% with a sexual assault.

A quarter of respondents said they had interrupted their social activities and a fifth said they had needed to leave their home.

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