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Haitian armed groups keeps on recruiting minors

Port-au-Prince, Apr 25 (Prensa Latina) The National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of Haiti reported on Thursday that armed groups continue levying minors in the country´s capital to swell their ranks.

Over 400 children have been recruited in Port-au-Prince alone in recent weeks, the agency said.

Nearly 50% of Haiti’s gangs are made up of minors who have nowadays no access to their basic rights.

“Widespread poverty and the lack of economic opportunities are also driving children to join armed groups,” the Haiti Libre newspaper reported.

The source estimated that 30% to 50% of gang members are minors.

In addition to wielding automatic weapons, guns and machetes, the children serve as spies, cooks, and females are being abused by gang members.

Recently, the Zanmi Timoun Foundation described the situation of children in Haiti as catastrophic, where minors are directly affected by the economic, political and social crisis.

The director of programs of the aforementioned entity, Manoach Presna, said the situation of society, in the midst of a surge in food and health problems, was deplorable.

In 2023, as many as 207,000 children faced domestic servitude, 113,000 were displaced as a result of gang violence, and 500 others were repatriated unaccompanied at the Haitian-Dominican border.

Children have been raped, kidnapped or killed during repeated attacks by armed gangs in various parts of the country, and access to hospitals is too difficult for them, Presna stressed.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on the other hand, called for prioritizing safety of children in Haiti, where violence remains a constant.

Take all necessary measures to prevent them from being exposed to violent events that could endanger their safety and lives, UNICEF said in a statement.

The longer this situation goes on, UNICEF warns, the greater the risk of irreversible physical and mental damage to children’s well-being.