Haiti Police Take Back Hospital From Gangs.

Photo: Pinearq. The hospital was completely rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 2010, but now has been vandalized by armed gangs and has no patients.
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Haiti”s newest Prime Minister Garry Conille has returned from the US  and together with Haiti’s police chief visited the Hospital of the State University of Haiti, the country’s largest hospital yesterday, after authorities said they took back control of the medical institution over the weekend from armed gangs.

Conille said the building should not be  “a war zone” and indications were that the interior had been vandalized to the extent that it could not be used as a hospital without refurbishment.

Conille, a gynecologist by training, walked the gang-ravaged premises of the Hospital of the State University of Haiti under heavy security. As he and Haiti National Police Chief Rameau Normil inspected the structure, Conille could not hide his shock as he pointed out the bullet holes riddling the walls and the toppled furnishings on the floor.

Recalling his early days in Haiti before he went on to become a United Nations development specialist, Conille said the General Hospital used to receive around 1,500 patients a day. Nowadays it’s zero.

Haitian Police Chief Normil Rameau told a news conference Monday that police took control of the hospital known as the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, on Sunday night after months of escalating attacks from armed groups.

There was no description of how the gangs had been evicted, or whether any fighting had occurred on the scene, or what kind of negotiations had taken place.

Haitians will “wake up one morning and find the operation done, the bandits stopped, and neutralized,” Rameau said at the briefing, but did not take questions from the media or indicate which morning he had in mind.

He was accompanied by Kenyan officer Godfrey Otunge, who said that the U.N.-backed contingent of Kenyan police intends to work closely with Haitian authorities as well as local and international partners dedicated to rebuilding Haiti.

The green and white-colored hospital was left ravaged by gangs, with beds stripped of their cots and ceiling fans on the floor. The building’s interior was left with debris and lighting fixtures among the hospital’s cubicles.

Hospital walls and nearby buildings were riddled with bullet holes, signaling fights between police and gangs in the neighborhood. The hospital is just across the street from the national palace, which was the scene of several battles in the last five months.

Council member Louis Gérald Gilles was also present on Tuesday’s visit, and announced the hospital should be in full service by February 2026. Conille said the hospital served about 1,500 people a day before the gang’s chokehold.

“This hospital is not for the rich, it’s for the poor,” Conille said on Tuesday. “These are people that need serious help that can’t go see a private doctor.”

The attacks from criminal groups have pushed Haiti’s health system to the brink of collapse and the escalating violence has led to a surge in patients with serious illnesses and a shortage of resources to treat them.

Gangs have been looting, setting fires and destroying medical institutions and pharmacies in the capital, where they control up to 80% of the area.

Haiti’s health care system, already struggling before the violence, faces additional challenges from the rainy season, which is likely to worsen conditions and increase the risk of water-borne diseases.

Poor hygiene conditions in camps and makeshift settlements have heightened the risk of diseases like cholera, with over 84,000 suspected cases in the country, according to a UNICEF report.

Besides the hospital, gunmen have seized police stations, attacked the main international airport (which was closed for nearly three months), and stormed Haiti’s two largest prisons.

In April, a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Haiti told The Associated Press that staff had been forced to cut the number of outpatients it treats daily from 150 to 50, with people lining up outside the hospital each day and risking being shot by gang members as they awaited medical care.

According to a report from the U.N. migration agency, the violence in Haiti has displaced nearly 580,000 people since March.

Sources: AP, Miami Herald, BBC.
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