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Hospital director in Haiti says police rescued women and children after gangs surround facility

by Sophia Chen
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Hospital Siege

In Haiti, a distressing incident unfolded at a medical facility as a heavily armed gang besieged a hospital, leaving women, children, and infants trapped within its walls. The director of the medical center, Mr. Jose Ulysse, urgently appealed for assistance through social media.

Fontaine Hospital Center, situated in the expansive Cite Soleil slum within the capital, Port-au-Prince, found itself encircled by the menacing gang. Reports initially indicated that the gang might have infiltrated the hospital itself, heightening the urgency of the situation.

Mr. Ulysse, deeply concerned about the safety of those under his care, reached out to Haiti’s National Police for aid. In a commendable response, the police arrived with three armored vehicles, swiftly executing an evacuation operation. They safely transported 40 children and 70 patients to a secure residence in a different part of the city. Among those requiring special care were infants reliant on oxygen support.

Ulysse lamented the dire circumstances, noting that the gangs had effectively seized control of the entire vicinity. Unfortunately, a spokesperson for Haiti’s National Police did not provide an immediate comment regarding the incident.

The Fontaine Hospital Center serves as a vital sanctuary in a community plagued by rampant gang activity. These criminal groups have escalated their violence, targeting each other and subjecting the civilian population of Cite Soleil to a grim reality of sexual assault, brutality, and loss of life.

Identifying the culprits responsible for the siege, Ulysse named the Brooklyn gang, led by Gabriel Jean-Pierre, commonly known as “Ti Gabriel.” Jean-Pierre also holds the leadership of the formidable gang coalition known as G-Pep, one of two rival alliances in Haiti. The Brooklyn gang, consisting of approximately 200 members, exerts control over specific sectors within Cite Soleil, including the Brooklyn district. Their activities encompass extortion, cargo theft, and widespread violence against civilians, as per a recent U.N. report.

The report highlighted the growing cooperation and diversification of revenues among G-Pep and its affiliates, primarily through kidnapping for ransom, further fortifying their combat capabilities.

This distressing incident is not the first time that the Fontaine Hospital Center faced threats from criminal elements. Ulysse revealed that gangs had previously targeted him personally on two separate occasions.

The situation in Haiti has continued to deteriorate since the tragic assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Gangs have grown in power, and incidents of kidnapping and violence have surged.

Earlier this year, another unsettling event unfolded when a group of at least 20 armed gang members forcibly entered a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders, snatching a patient from an operating room. They gained access by fabricating a life-threatening emergency, causing alarm and concern within the organization.

This report includes contributions from Dánica Coto, a reporter for Big Big News based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hospital Siege

What happened during the hospital siege in Haiti?

A heavily armed gang surrounded the Fontaine Hospital Center in Cite Soleil, Haiti, trapping women, children, and patients inside. The gangs also torched nearby homes, creating a dire situation.

How did the hospital director, Jose Ulysse, seek help during the siege?

Jose Ulysse, the hospital’s founder and director, reached out for assistance via social media, urgently appealing for help to rescue those trapped within the hospital.

How did the Haiti National Police respond to the situation?

In response to the distress call, the Haiti National Police swiftly arrived at the scene with three armored trucks. They successfully evacuated 40 children and 70 patients to a safer location in the city.

Who were the gangs responsible for the siege, according to Jose Ulysse?

Ulysse identified the Brooklyn gang, led by Gabriel Jean-Pierre, also known as “Ti Gabriel,” as the culprits behind the siege. Jean-Pierre is also the leader of the G-Pep gang alliance, one of two rival coalitions in Haiti.

What activities are associated with the Brooklyn gang?

The Brooklyn gang, comprised of around 200 members, is involved in extortion, hijacking of goods, and violence against civilians, as indicated by a recent U.N. report.

How has gang violence escalated in Haiti since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse?

Gang violence has intensified in Haiti following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, with kidnappings and killings on the rise.

What other incident involving a hospital occurred earlier this year in Haiti?

Earlier this year, armed gang members entered a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders, where they seized a patient from an operating room by fabricating a false life-threatening emergency.

What is the significance of the Fontaine Hospital Center in Cite Soleil?

The Fontaine Hospital Center is a critical lifeline and sanctuary in a community overrun by violent gangs, providing essential medical care to the population.

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