Frequent political protests in Port-au-Prince, other regional cities and the rural areas have often shut down transportation, closed businesses and hospitals and forced children to stay home from school, paralyzing the Caribbean nation of 11 million.
Haitian Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe resigned April 14 in the wake of crime and social unrest reportedly only after only one year on the job and before a controversial constitutional referendum and frustration with President Jovenel Moïse’s management of the crisis.
In addition to the recent clergy kidnappings, in mid-April, bandits attacked a Port-au-Prince orphanage, assaulting children and killing a guard.
In recent years, protesters, including Catholic leaders, have been calling for an end to corruption and mismanagement and for the removal of Moïse.
The ongoing crisis is a response to political and economic dysfunction, but criminal mobs are taking advantage of the situation, Cappellini said.
AVSI partners with the local Caritas agencies and Jesuit Refugee Service in promoting food security, human rights, women’s and children’s programming, immigrant rights, conflict resolution and peacemaking outreach to the gangs.
“We are working closely with the church, because the church in Haiti has deep and strong relationships with the people and a capacity to reach every community in the country,” she said. “Through them we are able to have our activities arriving to all these communities.”
“We are seeing the church having a voice in the crisis in Haiti, and we hope it will be heard by the government, although we are not sure they are listening.”
Capellini added that the international airport in the Haitian capital remains open but that the land border with the Dominican Republic is mostly closed and unsafe.