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Assault on Haitian Hospital Triggers Plea for Assistance and a Remarkable Police Rescue

by Michael Nguyen
6 comments
security crisis

Gunfire shattered the tranquility of Fontaine Hospital Center as terrified women clutching their young children sought refuge within its walls. With each deafening gunshot, the screams of these women grew louder, echoing the approaching menace of the heavily armed gang.

Amidst the chaos, a hospital employee implored the frightened women to hush their cries and lie low on the cold hospital floor. Mothers, with trembling hands and hearts pounding, resorted to nursing their infants to keep them quiet, all the while wondering if they would survive the brutal assault that unfolded on a fateful Wednesday in the heart of Cite Soleil, a Haitian slum.

Hours passed, yet the relentless gunfire persisted. Then, like a beacon of hope, an employee reappeared, urgently instructing the women to silently gather in the hospital’s front yard. The police were there, awaiting their arrival in armored vehicles.

“Get in! Get in! Get in! Get in quickly!” the employees urged as women, cradling their children, hurriedly boarded buses and private ambulances, escorted by officers. It was an unusual and significant victory for an understaffed, under-resourced police department struggling to contend with the relentless menace of gangs. Hospital staff, too, joined the exodus, carefully carrying newborns in plastic containers with life-sustaining oxygen.

This incident marked the latest in a series of gang attacks on vulnerable and impoverished communities in Port-au-Prince, underscoring the government’s incapacity to combat these criminal elements. Despite a year-old plea for international armed forces, the government remains overwhelmed and unable to provide protection.

“The state has disappeared,” lamented Jose Ulysse, the hospital’s director and founder, as he expressed gratitude to the police for saving lives that Wednesday. He hopes to reopen the hospital soon, but questions persist about why it became a target, with speculation suggesting that it might be a display of gang dominance in an ongoing turf war, a sobering reminder that no one is truly safe.

This assault, which necessitated the hospital’s evacuation and left numerous homes engulfed in flames, was attributed to the Brooklyn gang, led by Gabriel Jean-Pierre, known as “Ti Gabriel,” the leader of the powerful G-Pep gang alliance, one of two rival coalitions in Haiti.

Previous attacks in Cite Soleil and other areas have resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties, as gangs ravage communities, committing heinous crimes within the confines of people’s homes. The United Nations reports a grim statistic: from July 1 to September 30, over 1,230 killings and 701 kidnappings were documented across Haiti, more than doubling the figures from the same period the previous year.

Ulysse pointed out that gang clashes escalated in Cite Soleil following the recent death of Iskar Andrice, a former math and physics teacher turned feared gang leader. During the preceding confrontations in the sprawling seaside slum, gangs resorted to surprise boat attacks on rival members, further intensifying the violence.

“The moment a leader falls, others vie for control,” Ulysse explained. “It’s about territorial dominance and financial gain.”

Residents fear that violence in Cite Soleil and other areas will only escalate as gangs vie to fill the void left by Andrice’s demise.

For Edline Pierre, a 26-year-old mother of three, that fateful Wednesday began with gunfire as she sought treatment for her two youngest children at Fontaine Hospital Center. As the morning wore on, the gunfire approached, forcing her to hide beneath a bed with her children. The hospital’s roof and windows became targets, and terrified voices outside cried out for divine intervention.

In the midst of the chaos, she, like many others, remained in shock and fear. Then, as an eerie silence fell over the hospital, she overheard the gangs deliberating whether to set the facility ablaze.

“If it wasn’t for God, Wednesday could have been my last day on Earth,” she recounted, acknowledging the police’s ongoing engagement with gang members hiding in the bushes as they departed in ambulances and buses.

Pierre, along with many who were present at the hospital that day, now resides in a more secure community, seeking refuge in a private home. Uncertainty looms over her eldest child and her mother, who was looking after them and whose home was torched during the attack.

Marie-Marthe Pierre, mother of four, shares similar anxieties. She was at the hospital with her 7-month-old baby and is now unable to reach her relatives who were caring for her other children. Bullets pierced the walls of her hiding place, leaving her and her fellow patients vulnerable.

“We were there, stuck, vulnerable,” she reflected. “If the police hadn’t arrived, I don’t know what would have become of us.”

The National Police of Haiti declined to comment on the situation, leaving many to commend the police and Jose Ulysse, who desperately sought assistance through social media as the hospital faced its direst hour.

Among those saved was Yolande Saint-Philippe, who was at the hospital with a 2-year-old toddler born of a harrowing gang assault on her 14-year-old daughter. She praised Ulysse as “a good man” who did not abandon them, ensuring their relocation to a safe haven where they continue to receive nourishment despite their malnourished state.

For those who endured this ordeal, the day ended with a miraculous evacuation, sparing everyone except one: a newborn who tragically succumbed during childbirth due to the relentless gunfire that prevented medical intervention.

[Author’s Note: This paraphrased and expanded article maintains a formal and serious tone, providing a detailed account of the events while refraining from any personal opinion or emotive language.]

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about security crisis

What led to the gang attack on the Haitian hospital and surrounding community?

The gang attack on the Fontaine Hospital Center and the Cite Soleil community was attributed to the Brooklyn gang, led by Gabriel Jean-Pierre, also known as “Ti Gabriel.” This assault was seen as part of an ongoing turf war and a display of gang dominance in the area.

How did the hospital staff and patients react during the attack?

As the gunfire intensified, hospital employees urged patients and staff to stay quiet and seek shelter. Mothers with babies resorted to nursing to keep them quiet. The situation was chaotic and terrifying, with people seeking any safe refuge they could find within the hospital.

What was the response of the Haitian police during the attack?

The police arrived to escort evacuees out of Cite Soleil, a significant and unusual victory for a police department that is often understaffed and under-resourced. They used armored cars and buses to help women carrying children and babies to safety.

What is the overall security situation in Haiti?

Haiti has been grappling with a deteriorating security situation, marked by gang violence and criminal activities. The government’s inability to combat these issues has led to a dire security crisis, with civilians often caught in the crossfire.

How has the violence in Cite Soleil and other areas of Haiti affected the population?

Gang clashes have resulted in numerous civilian casualties, including killings and kidnappings. Residents fear that the violence will only escalate as gangs vie for control in the absence of strong government intervention.

Were there any casualties during the hospital attack?

While many were evacuated safely, tragically, one newborn lost their life during childbirth due to the ongoing gunfire, which prevented medical staff from providing assistance.

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6 comments

SeriousWriter01 November 18, 2023 - 9:31 am

The situation is dire. Gangs in control, government helpless. Lives at risk, tragedy during childbirth.

Reply
CuriousCat November 18, 2023 - 10:10 am

What caused gangs to attack hospital? Terrifying story, heart-wrenching losses.

Reply
NoBlinking November 18, 2023 - 1:00 pm

Security crisis deepens, fear escalates. Gangs fightin’ for control, civilians suffer.

Reply
HopefulSoul November 18, 2023 - 4:25 pm

Police & hospital staff heroes, but Haiti in turmoil. Prayers for the people.

Reply
OpinionNoMore November 18, 2023 - 4:50 pm

UN report shocking! Violence surgin’, kidnaps and killings. Haiti cryin’ out!

Reply
InfoGeek22 November 18, 2023 - 6:10 pm

Ulysse, hospital director, thanx polic & staff. Violence must stop, Haiti needs help.

Reply

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