In recent decades, Haiti has suffered numerous natural disasters and crises. The current situation in Haiti is dire, with 5.2 million people in need of humanitarian aid due to mounting sociopolitical instability, gang violence, and a cholera epidemic. Gang-related crimes in Haiti have reached an alarming level, with increasing violence, armed robberies, and kidnappings.
FAQs: Haiti in crisis
Explore facts and FAQs, and learn what you need to know to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable Haitians.
- Fast facts: the crisis in Haiti
- How long has the crisis in Haiti persisted, and what is driving it?
- Who is in charge in Haiti right now?
- How is the crisis affecting the people of Haiti?
- What risks do Haitian children face during this crisis?
- Why is there a cholera epidemic now?
- How is World Vision helping vulnerable Haitians today?
- How can I make a difference and support Haitian children and families?
Fast facts: the crisis in Haiti
- Haiti is one of the most impoverished nations in the Western Hemisphere and is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.
- An estimated 5.2 million people in Haiti will need life-saving humanitarian aid in 2023. More than half are children and women.
- The number of people living in extreme poverty continues to rise; 31% of the population makes less than $2.15 per day.
- Over 160,000 people are displaced due to the recent turmoil, with a quarter of them living in makeshift settlements.
- As many as 300 criminal gangs, with up to 150 in Port-au-Prince, are infiltrating Haiti’s breadbasket as hunger spreads, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
- Violence spiked in the first quarter of 2023, with 807 fatalities (a 107% increase from the last quarter of 2022), and 746 injuries (up by 114%). There were also 627 reported kidnappings, representing a 125% increase from the previous quarter, according to U.N. reports.
- Since the first two cases of cholera were reported in Port-au-Prince in early October 2022, cholera has spread throughout Haiti, resulting in 35,000 suspected cases as of March 2023.
- A magnitude 7.2 earthquake in August 2021 caused widespread destruction and displacement. Many Haitians continue to recover from the disaster.
How long has the crisis in Haiti persisted, and what factors are driving it?
Haiti has experienced a multidimensional crisis for decades, caused by political unrest, economic hardship, and social problems. The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 exacerbated the political turmoil and led to widespread violence. The COVID-19 pandemic also hit Haiti hard, worsening economic difficulties and straining an already fragile healthcare system. Natural disasters, including the 2010 earthquake, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and the August 2021 earthquake compounded the hardships facing Haitians.
Who is in charge in Haiti right now?
Currently, the country of more than 11 million people is without elected officials at the presidential, legislative, and mayoral levels, and there are no scheduled elections to replace expired terms. Additionally, there is a political standoff between the government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who assumed presidential power after Moïse’s assassination, and civil society leaders, amid an escalating security crisis. The prime minister has promised to hold elections but only in safer conditions.
How is the crisis affecting the people of Haiti?
With the rise in gang activity, horrific acts of violence are being carried out against innocent civilians.
Snipers shoot randomly in the streets and even into homes, killing or injuring innocent bystanders. Women and girls are experiencing increased sexual violence, with gangs committing these crimes to terrorize and control the population. Gangs are also kidnapping teachers, parents, and students near schools, forcing many to close and leaving children vulnerable to recruitment into armed groups.
As a result of this violence, at least 160,000 people have been displaced from their homes, many staying with friends or relatives in overcrowded conditions without access to basic necessities like clean water and sanitation.
Hunger in Haiti is reaching record levels, with half of the population facing acute hunger and nearly 1 in 5 at the “emergency” phase.
What risks do Haitian children face during this crisis?
The upheaval in Haiti has created a dangerous environment for children. The numerous risks they face include:
- Exposure to violence. Children may witness or experience violence firsthand, which can have long-lasting physical and psychological effects.
- Forced recruitment into armed gangs. This exposes them to even greater levels of violence and exploitation.
- Limited access to education. With schools closing due to a lack of security, children risk falling behind in their studies or missing out on education entirely.
- Malnutrition and food insecurity. Food shortages and rising prices resulting from the crisis have put children at risk of severe malnutrition and its lasting impacts.
- Separation from family. The volatile situation has led to displacement and migration, during which children can be separated from their families and lose the protection of their caregivers.
- Lack of access to healthcare. The violence and instability have disrupted health services, leaving many children without access to essential medical care and vaccinations.
Why is there a cholera epidemic now?
Since the 2010 cholera epidemic in Haiti, cholera has become widespread. The recent surge in cholera cases has affected people across the country, with over 300,000 becoming sick. Of those, more than 2,000 cases have been confirmed through testing, and nearly 600 people have died. Confirming cholera cases is challenging because of its similarity to other illnesses, the time-consuming nature of the tests, and limited access to medical care and resources.
Most cases of cholera, an intestinal infection caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium, result from consuming or coming in contact with contaminated water or food. Disasters like earthquakes, conflict, severe weather conditions, poverty, and lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation can all contribute or lead to an outbreak of cholera.
How is World Vision helping vulnerable Haitians today?
World Vision has been working in Haiti for more than 40 years. Despite the current challenging and unpredictable conditions, we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting vulnerable children and families.
In 2022, we supported Haitian children and families in the following ways:
- Reached 12,971 children with hot meals each day through school food programs
- Equipped 114,975 children with educational curricula aimed at ending violence in schools
- Helped 2,156 children obtain birth certificates through community birth registration education and mobile registrations, helping ensure more secure futures for them
- Provided business and entrepreneurial training skills to 6,700 people
As of early 2023, we have supported 15,645 people with programs that support improved sanitation and hygiene. In addition, we were able to:
- Distribute 200 hygiene kits for cholera prevention to residents on the Haitian island of La Gonâve
- Team with community and church leaders to provide vulnerable families with information on COVID-19 prevention and supplies, including hygiene kits, reaching a total of over 2.2 million people
- Provide seeds to 2,100 households for growing healthy food to support children’s nutrition; more than 5,600 students and their families also received monthly take-home meals from school
- Partner with 45 schools to offer educational support following emergencies, encouraging ongoing learning for children in the midst of crisis
How can I make a difference and support Haitian children and families?
You can help World Vision continue to respond to emergencies in Haiti and around the world.
- Pray: Join us in praying for all those affected by the crisis in Haiti. Merciful God, we ask You to orchestrate an end to the crises afflicting the people of Haiti. Father, we pray for the protection of children, women, and men facing unimaginable levels of violence. Please give all those who are hungry enough food to keep them nourished. We ask in Your name that the people of Haiti will find peace, hope, healing, and restoration for their lives and nation.
- Please give: Help support vulnerable children and families affected by emergencies like the crisis in Haiti.
- Sponsor a child: Empower a child — and their family and community — for a brighter future by helping to establish lasting access to essentials like clean water, nutritious food, healthcare, quality education, and more.