The rapid escalation of the situation in Haiti is having devastating impacts on children, challenging their right to safety, health, well-being, and a peaceful childhood. The unprecedented spike in armed gang violence is further forcing thousands of families, including children, to flee their homes in search of protection and life-saving relief. Half of the population (5.5 million) is estimated to need urgent humanitarian assistance (OCHA) and children who account for more than 30% of the population are particularly vulnerable as the social fabric and basic services, including education, are being significantly disrupted.

Haiti has been included as a situation of concern under the Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) agenda as per the last report of the Secretary-General given the gravity and number of grave violations* reported and verified. The monitoring and reporting of grave violations against children has been ongoing since June 2023 and information gathered shows an increasing number of such child’s rights violations. Further information will be available in the next Secretary-General Annual Report on CAAC covering the year 2023, scheduled to be published in June this year.

In light of the increased unrest, human rights violations, abuses, and threats of an imminent further escalation of the situation, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict reiterates that children, meaning every person under the age of 18 years, are entitled to special rights and protection under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC).

Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative, further urges those that can influence that everything must be done to prevent grave violations against children and urges gangs to immediately release any children from their ranks and release them to civilian child protection actors.

The Special Representative urges the urgent provision of rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to enable the provision of life-saving and essential services, including health services and education, and expresses her concern over the humanitarian impact of the current developments.

The Special Representative echoes the calls for the financing and fast deployment of the Multinational Security Support mission, as authorized by U.N Security Council Resolution 2699 (2023), to address the security needs of the Haitian people, including the protection of children and other vulnerable groups.

Note to editors
* The six grave violations as identified by the United Nations Security Council are: recruitment and use, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, abduction, and denial of humanitarian access.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Ariane Lignier, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, New York.