Haiti is experiencing unprecedented levels of gang violence and kidnappings – a spike that has paralysed the Caribbean country and prevented crucial humanitarian aid from getting to millions of people who are hungry, displaced, or facing other needs.
Many of these gang members are under 24. Some are children as young as 11.
With few work or educational opportunities, many gang members say they have turned to the armed groups as a way of earning quick cash or gaining power. Some even say they are doing what the government has failed to do – taking care of its population.
In December, The New Humanitarian gained rare access to current and former gang members in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Three Haitian journalists were key in reporting the story. Out of security fears, they asked that their names be withheld. Two journalists were shot and killed in January by alleged gang members in the Laboule neighbourhood of the capital.