Haiti: Dozens injured by stray bullets as violence escalates in Port-au-Prince

Staff load a patient onto an ambulance at MSF's Turgeau Emergency Center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Haiti 2022 © Johnson Sabin

NEW YORK/PORT-AU-PRINCE, JULY 29, 2022—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams at the emergency center in Turgeau in Port-au Prince, Haiti have treated almost 80 people with gunshot wounds—mainly from stray bullets—since last weekend. This is the result of escalating fighting between armed groups that has spread to new areas of the capital, said the international medical humanitarian organization on Friday.

This most recent wave of violence follows the fighting that broke out in the Cité Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince earlier this month, leaving thousands of people trapped without drinking water, food, or medical care.

“These 80 patients only represent a small number of the victims,” said Rachelle Seguin, medical coordinator for MSF in Haiti. “Moving around has become extremely dangerous in several areas of the city. Many people are trapped in their neighborhoods. This has made access to health care very difficult. MSF is organizing mobile clinics to reach the people who can’t move, but even our medical teams face difficulties; at least three times, our mobile clinics had to be postponed or cancelled because of the fighting.”

In the neighborhood of Cité Soleil, an MSF mobile clinic reached the area during a ceasefire. In a few hours, MSF’s medical teams carried out 150 consultations—30 of which were for people with infected wounds, meaning these were old wounds that weren’t treated before. This is likely because the wounded couldn’t get medical help, either because of the intensity of the ongoing fighting or because armed groups have erected roadblocks and barricades. In some areas, MSF can only treat patients in basements or windowless rooms because of the dangers of crossfire and stray bullets.

Since the increase in violence in several areas of Port-au-Prince—whether it’s in Cité Soleil, Martissant, or, most recently, Bel Air, Bas Delmas, and the fringes of the city center—MSF has observed a decrease in outpatient consultations.

“The people of Port-au-Prince must be spared from the violence and must have access to health care and basic services,” said Benoît Vasseur, MSF head of mission in Haiti. “We’re very concerned that the conflict zones in and around the Haitian capital keep spreading.”

All parties involved in the recent clashes must allow aid to enter affected areas, ensure the safety of civilians, and allow people to access health care and basic services, said MSF.