Study: Violent crime has spiked in cities
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.