In Haiti, nearly 100,000 people fled the metropolitan area of ​​Port-au-Prince in one month to seek shelter from escalating gang attacks, the International Organization for migration (IOM).

Thanks to the implementation of data collection at the most used bus stations, the IOM observed between March 8 and April 9 the departure of 94,821 people from the capital, mainly to join the departments of Grand South which already welcomed 116,000 displaced people who had fled in recent months, the IOM said in a press release. The previous IOM figure showed 53,000 people having fled in three weeks between March 8 and 27.

The agency notes that these figures do not necessarily reflect the entire flow, as some displaced persons do not pass through the data collection points, or pass through them when the data cannot be collected. Destination provinces “do not have sufficient infrastructure and host communities do not have sufficient resources that can enable them to cope with these massive displacement flows coming from the capital,” IOM further commented.

According to this data, the majority (63%) of the nearly 100,000 people who fled the capital were already internally displaced, often having first sought refuge with relatives within the metropolitan area of ​​Port-au-Prince . Some had even already been moved twice, three times or more.

New phenomenon

But the IOM has observed a new phenomenon. While at the beginning of March those already internally displaced were the first to leave the capital, over time, those who had not previously been displaced also decided to leave.

“This further describes the deterioration of the situation in the capital, given that leaving the capital could be a relatively quicker decision to make for a person who was already displaced than for one who was still in their residence and decides to leave it to seek refuge in the provinces,” commented the UN agency.

The vast majority (78%) of those surveyed by IOM for this data collection said they were leaving the capital because of the violence and 66% said they would stay out of the city “as long as necessary “.

Haiti has been ravaged for decades by poverty, natural disasters, political instability and gang violence. Since late February, powerful Haitian gangs have teamed up to attack police stations, prisons, the airport and the seaport in an effort to oust Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Highly contested, the latter announced on March 11 that he would resign to make way for a transitional council, but this body has still not been established.