“Haiti Will Go Hungry Soon”: With Port Overtaken by Gangs, Port-au-Prince Descends Further Into Total Chaos and Lawlessness

March 07, 2024

Mercy Corps is deeply alarmed by the escalating violence and chaos unfolding in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as a gang uprising, characterized by targeted attacks on strategic locations like police stations, prisons, and the international airport, plunges the city into a state of fear and uncertainty.

Intense gunfire and widespread violence have forced businesses, offices, and schools to close. Civilians have barricaded themselves in their homes, unable to venture out for fear of armed gangs. The mass escape of thousands of prisoners further exacerbates the volatile situation, with law enforcement seemingly overwhelmed and unable to maintain order. The UN reports that in the last few days over 15,000 people, the majority of whom were already displaced, have been displaced in Port-au-Prince. Currently, 80 percent of the capital is controlled by armed gangs.

Mercy Corps’ activities across Port-au-Prince are currently at a standstill, while operations in Nippes and Grand'Anse Departments continue operating normally with distribution of agricultural inputs to support farmers' productivity.

Mercy Corps’ Country Director for Haiti, Laurent Uwumuremyi, says:

“Haiti has descended into total chaos and lawlessness. The humanitarian toll of this crisis is staggering, with hospitals and trauma centers overwhelmed by patients suffering from bullet wounds, including women and children caught in the crossfire. The relentless onslaught by armed gangs has created a battlefield-like atmosphere in the city, leaving residents terrified and aid workers unable to support the population.

“We are particularly concerned about the safety of vulnerable populations, including women, children, and the elderly, who are disproportionately affected by the escalating violence. With the international airport closed, the little aid Haiti is currently receiving may not reach the country. The Western department is completely under siege, with all the main roads on the outskirts falling into the hands of armed groups. The only safe alternative route from Port-au-Prince to other parts of the country is by air. And with air operations suspended, we lost the only safe alternative route from Port-au-Prince to other parts of the country.

“It has also been reported that the port in Port-au-Prince has been taken over by gangs, all containers are being looted, and all liners have stopped their ships from docking. These ships are the dry docks with majority food containers. If we cannot access those containers, Haiti will go hungry soon.” 

“As the situation continues to deteriorate, it is imperative for the international community and national actors to take urgent action to protect the civilian population and restore order in Haiti. We call on all stakeholders, including the Haitian government, regional partners, and international organizations, to prioritize the safety and security of the population and work towards finding a peaceful and lasting resolution to this crisis.”


Mercy Corps is providing emergency cash assistance to 32,500 people in Haiti and more than 700 small businesses in three departments, including Port-au-Prince. Since 2019, Mercy Corps has also been working to reduce violence and help young people pursue opportunities through financial inclusion and life skills training for more than 8,000 adolescents. Mercy Corps has worked in Haiti since 2010 to meet urgent needs through cash assistance, boost small businesses and entrepreneurs, build up young people’s skills to become productive, peaceful and active members of their communities, help communities better prepare for disasters, and improve the incomes and harvests, food security and practices of rural farmers. 


For more information please contact: 

  • Roberta Alves, Deputy Director of Communications (based in Washington, D.C.) at ralves@mercycorps.org
  • Our full media team is reachable at allmediarelations@mercycorps.org