Bishops warn Haiti at ‘critical junction,’ needs urgent help amid ‘unlivable situation’
March 20, 2024 • Diocese of St. Augustine

MIAMI (OSV News) — As violence and instability ravage Haiti — with armed gangs controlling some 80% of the nation’s capital, scores dead and millions at risk for food insecurity — two U.S. bishops are urging awareness and action by the global community to assist Haitians in restoring peace. “We’re at a critical junction,” Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami told OSV News. “It’s a time in which we hope against hope that the Haitian people will be able to resolve some of their differences, and start building back a society that is peaceful and that promotes justice for all citizens.” In a March 15 statement, Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, appealed for prayers for Haiti. He urged the U.S. government and the international community to continue actively to address the country’s long-term challenges. “This is an unlivable situation for the people of Haiti, where families are unable to provide basic necessities for their loved ones,” he said. An estimated 80% of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, is currently under the control of armed gangs, a number of which recently began targeting state institutions, including prisons, police stations and the main international airport.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry addresses the nation at an unidentified location on a date given as March 11, 2024, in this screenshot obtained from a handout video. Henry resigned after weeks of mounting chaos in the Caribbean nation. (OSV News photo/Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti via X/Handout via Reuters)
Former Haitian police officer Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, the leader of an alliance of armed groups, uses a walkie-talkie after addressing the media in Port-au-Prince March 11, 2024. Prime Minister Ariel Henry the same day said in a video address that his government would leave power after the establishment of a transitional council. “Haiti needs peace. Haiti needs stability,” he said. (OSV News photo/Ralph Tedy Erol, Reuters)
Residents who fled violence gather to receive meals at a school being used for shelter as Haiti’s government declared a state of emergency amid violence in Port-au-Prince March 4, 2024. (OSV News photo/Ralph Tedy Erol, Reuters)
A man drives past a burning barricade during a protest against Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s government and insecurity in Port-au-Prince March 1, 2024. (OSV News photo/Ralph Tedy Erol, Reuters)