Study: Vi­o­lent crime has spiked in cities

The Washington Times Daily - - World - THE AMER­I­CAS

PORT-AU-PRINCE | Haiti has seen a dra­matic in­crease in vi­o­lent crime in the shanties of its ma­jor cities in the past six months, help­ing un­der­mine faith in the coun­try’s po­lice force, ac­cord­ing to a study re­leased Sun­day.

The pre­lim­i­nary find­ings in the re­port ti­tled “Haiti’s Ur­ban Crime Wave?” speak to ris­ing con­cerns among Haitians that their coun­try is en­ter­ing a pe­riod of po­lit­i­cal tur­moil that could thwart ef­forts to help re­build in the af­ter­math of the pow­er­ful Jan­uary 2010 earth­quake.

Homi­cides in the heav­ily pop­u­lated ar­eas of Haiti’s big­gest cities ap­pear to have in­creased sharply from Au­gust 2011 to Fe­bru­ary 2012, ac­cord­ing to the study writ­ten by so­cial sci­en­tists Athena Kolbe and Robert Mug­gah, and backed by the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment’s In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Re­search Cen­ter and the Brazil non­profit, the Igarape In­sti­tute.

While the homi­cide rate in Port-au-prince is lower than that of some other Caribbean cities, Haiti’s cap­i­tal saw 60.9 mur­ders per 100,000 res­i­dents over the year lead­ing up to Fe­bru­ary 2012, the high­est recorded mur­der rate since 2006, ac­cord­ing to the study.

For ex­am­ple, the Bel Air dis­trict of Port-auPrince saw homi­cides jump from 19 per 100,000 peo­ple in 2010 to 50 per 100,000 near the end of 2011.

“This mur­der rate is not just high — it’s enor­mous,” Ms. Kolbe said.

By com­par­i­son, New York City’s homi­cide rate was less than 7 per 100,000 in 2011, while Oak­land, Calif., had 23 homi­cides per 100,000 res­i­dents.

The bulk of the Haiti mur­ders hap­pened in densely pop­u­lated ar­eas in the cities where there are high lev­els of so­cial marginal­iza­tion and poverty, which in­cluded Cap-hai­tien, Les Cayes and Gon­aives, among oth­ers.

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