Haiti: No to violence; we cannot continue like this!

Vatican News

Father Renold Antoine, CSsR, tells us about the difficult situation in Haiti where the Redemptorists are present. He asks us to pray for peace and to end the violence in his country, where criminal groups sow terror and panic among the people.

Since last Thursday, February 29, Haiti has been experiencing another unprecedented escalation of violence. This new escalation began precisely after it became known, during the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) summit in Guyana, that Prime Minister Ariel Henry committed to holding elections in Haiti only on August 31, 2025.

This news unleashed the fury of the armed groups that control the Haitian Capital and its peripheries. Once rivals, they have now joined forces to demand the resignation of the country’s prime minister. Since that time, police stations, sub-stations, even the Toussaint Louverture International Airport have been targets of attacks by gang members.

Schools, hospitals, orphanages, commercial banks, public buildings, and many businesses have been looted. The civilian population is terrified by the fury of the armed groups. Thousands of people have had to leave their homes to seek refuge in camps where they feel safer but often in inhumane conditions. Almost all the republican institutions are inactive and are not considered; two large prisons in the metropolitan area of ​​the Capital, where the most feared gang members in the country were, were taken over by armed groups outside the law, which facilitated the massive escape of inmates.

On March 5, it was reported that three nuns from the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny have been kidnapped from an orphanage that belongs to this congregation. “The situation has boiled over, enough is enough,” the crowd shouts. Every day it feels like there is no hope. For many, this situation is due to the stubbornness and amateurism of those who hold back the political power and violence of groups outside the law. This situation has worsened poverty and health problems in this country that was already the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.

For this reason, we as Redemptorist Missionaries, once again, call on those who have political power and the political bodies and people, both in power and in the opposition, who are behind the armed groups, to do so. necessary and to stop this escalation of violence, seeking a stable and lasting solution to get the country out of this terrible crisis.

To the international community, we ask that it is time not to talk so much, that it is time to act, because the situation is extremely serious. We also appeal to everyone’s conscience, to society in general, and to the international community, since the time to stand up and say NO to this reality of violence that we have been experiencing for so many years is becoming evident.

We cannot be satisfied with our individual well-being to the detriment of collective well-being. No matter the social, intellectual, religious, political rank, it is necessary to do something and now. Haitians in the diaspora, we can no longer continue like this. We must refuse to be complicit in the atrocities that these people, with a spirit of evil, are committing against our people and against our nation. We are all bound and called to live together in this land of freedom. Haiti is ours. Together, let us unite to change this horrible time. Rather let us say YES, to life, to progress, to collective well-being, to peace and security for all.

Fr. Renold ANTOINE CSsR,
Redemptorist Missionary

Haiti currently in brief (according to data from Human Rights Watch):

Haiti, which shares the island with the Dominican Republic, has a third of the territory and a population of 11 million 724 thousand 764 inhabitants, having grown more than 40 percent since 2000. The young population, with an average age of 24, 3 years in 2021, and a life expectancy of 64.8 years, faces a very critical economic and social situation.

The World Bank estimated that, in 2023, 63 percent of Haitians live on $3.65 a day, and at least 5.2 million people today need food and housing assistance, a figure that increased by 20 percent from 2022.

About half of Haitians over the age of 15 are illiterate and only about 50 percent of children had completed primary school in 2020.