Heavily Armed Gang Surrounds Haitian Hospital, Trapping Women, Children, and Newborns Inside
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A heavily armed gang surrounded a Haitian hospital on Wednesday, leaving women, children, and newborns trapped inside until they were rescued by police, according to the medical center’s director, who appealed for help on social media.
Jose Ulysse, founder and director of the Fontaine Hospital Center — located in the sprawling Cité Soleil slum of the capital Port-au-Prince — told The Associated Press that gangs were setting fire to houses surrounding the hospital and preventing anyone inside from leaving. He had previously said that it seemed that criminal groups had entered the hospital.
Ulysse said the Haitian National Police responded to his call for help and arrived with three armored trucks to evacuate 40 children and 70 patients to a private residence in a safer area of the city. Among those evacuated with caution were children requiring oxygen, he said.
“The gangs have absolute control of the area,” he commented.
A spokesperson for the Haitian National Police did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The hospital is considered an oasis and a lifeline in a community dominated by gangs, which have sparked increasingly violent confrontations between them. As a result, civilians living in Cité Soleil have routinely been raped, beaten, or killed.
Ulysse said those responsible were members of the Brooklyn gang, led by Gabriel Jean-Pierre, better known as “Ti Gabriel.” Jean-Pierre is also the leader of a powerful gang alliance known as G-Pep, one of two rival coalitions in Haiti.
The Brooklyn gang has about 200 members and controls certain communities within Cité Soleil, including Brooklyn. They engage in extortion, theft of goods, and widespread violence against civilians, according to a recent United Nations report.
“The G-Pep coalition and its allies have considerably strengthened their cooperation and diversified their sources of income, particularly through kidnapping for ransom, which has allowed them to strengthen their combat capacity,” the report states.
When the AP visited Fontaine Hospital Center earlier this year, Ulysse said in an interview that gangs had personally attacked him on two previous occasions.
Across Haiti, gangs have become more powerful since the killing of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, and kidnappings and murders continue to rise.