News Article

‘Absolute devastation’: Wars, violence in Haiti, Sudan overshadowed, overlooked
April 20, 2024


By: Mike Sunnucks

With the U.S. poised to allocate $95 billion in new war focused on Ukraine and Israel and global eyes glued to Gaza and Iran, wars, violence and worsening strife in Sudan and Haiti — two of the world’s poorest countries — have been overshadowed.

The violence in Haiti and Sudan includes mounting death tolls from gang, mob and paramilitary bloodshed, sexual assaults against women and girls, surges in refugees and worsening food situations.

U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both Maryland Democrats, and others are trying to bring attention and resolution to the violent conflicts that have ravaged Sudan in Africa and Haiti in the Caribbean.


A new United Nations report released Friday shows more than 2,505 people (including 82 children) were killed and more than 438 people kidnapped in Haiti’s gang violence during the first quarter of 2024. The death toll is up 53% from the previous quarter.

“More than 4,600 inmates escaped from the two main prisons in the capital, and at least 22 police stations, sub-police stations and other police buildings were looted or set on fire, and 19 police officers were killed or injured,” the UN report said of the anarchy also referencing gang continued use of sexual violence against women and girls.

“Mob justice” incidents in Haiti killed 141 persons during the first three months of 2024. There have been an estimated 7,300 deaths in the gang wars since 2023, which have worsened since the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.

There have been more than 362,000 Haitians displaced in the violence, and the Biden administration faces criticism after it resumed deportation flights back to the ravaged island nation.


The war in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces marked a grim one-year anniversary on April 15.

The conflict between rival military factions has seen more than 15,000 people killed, more than 8 million others displaced and more than 2 million refugees.

There have been more than 150 Christian churches damaged and destroyed, and Christians have been attacked during the paramilitary civil war in overwhelmingly Muslim Sudan, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Cardin urged additional U.S. and international aid to Sudan in comments on the Senate Floor Friday.

“In the last year there has been absolute devastation in Sudan. And at every turn, unarmed Sudanese have been in the crosshairs. These armed groups have committed extrajudicial killings. They have indiscriminately bombed civilian targets like hospitals that have used rape and sexual violence against woman of certain ethnic groups as a weapon of war. They have razed cities and towns, killing inhabitants, strangling commerce and trade. They have destroyed farmlands and forced farmers to leave, preventing harvests,” Cardin said.

He cited a World Food Program warning that Sudan is on the verge of “unprecedented levels of starvation.”

Van Hollen spoke at an April 15 event in Washington on the Sudan war hoping to generate more interest in getting humanitarian supplies and a ceasefire forged.

“There are lots of crises around the world that we need to address. We need to address the crisis in Sudan right now,” Van Hollen said at the Unite for Sudan event.

“However we do it, we need to get more humanitarian assistance to Sudan now as we work to end the war. The best way to help people of course is to get a ceasefire and end this war and hold people accountable,” he said.


The Maryland lawmakers and relief agencies are calling for more U.S. and international humanitarian aid to Haiti and Sudan as Congress moves forward on a new $60.8 billion war assistance package for Ukraine in its war against invading Russian forces and a $26.4 billion outlay for Israel’s war against Hamas and Gaza. The latter includes $9.2 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza, Sudan and other global trouble spots.

Cardin — who chairs the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee — called for increased funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID.

“We need to expand the pie, not shrink it. Otherwise, when we try to address one crisis, we have to take money from another emergency circumstance. We should not have to choose between saving starving Sudanese or saving starving Gazans. We should not have to choose between helping Haitians or helping Ukrainians,” Cardin said.

The Biden administration’s FY 2025 budget calls for $42.8 billion for foreign assistance budgets for USAID and the State Department. That includes $10.3 billion for USAID humanitarian and refugee programs.

Some baseline budget numbers for U.S. aid have been down amid partisan budget fights, but they have been bolstered by supplemental spending packages.

The U.S. has sent $1 billion in relief aid to Sudan since October 2023, according to the Commission on International Religious Freedom. The U.S. has moved $171 million in humanitarian funds to Haiti since October 2022. There are also questions to continue regarding the $13 billion in money raised for Haiti — including by prominent U.S. celebrities and the Clinton Foundation — after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

The Biden administration has already sent $75 billion to Ukraine, and Israel gets $3.3 billion annually in U.S. weapons and other military aid.

The Pentagon has sent additional munitions and weapons to Israel since Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks sparked the Holy Land war. The conflict has caused significant civilian casualties and dire conditions and has seen more than 13,000 and 10,000 women killed, according to the United Nations.

The U.S. spends close to $1 trillion on its military and national security annually.


U.S. Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-California) said the conflict In Sudan is “the world’s largest hunger and internal displacement crisis.”

“The international community must step up to push for an end to the fighting and contribute to the grossly under-resourced humanitarian response,” Kamlager-Dove said.

Mostly Christian South Sudan became its own country in 2011. Sudan, which has a population of more than 49 million people, is overwhelmingly Muslim.

Rosemary DiCarlo, the United Nations under-secretary-general, said the Sudan war is “a crisis of epic proportions.”

In Haiti, the situation has gone from bad to worse. Criminal gangs control much of Port-au-Prince, which has a population of more than 2.6 million.

The Biden administration sent a special anti-terrorism Marine Corps unit to Haiti in March to protect the U.S. Embassy.

U.S. Army Gen. Laura Richardson, who is head of the Southern Command, said the Pentagon has a range of contingency plans related to Haiti, including a mass migration.

Richardson told the Atlantic Council in March as of now, the U.S. doesn’t have plans to send troops into Haiti but the situation needs to be addressed internationally, according to the Defense Department.

There are also concerns about U.S.-made guns, ammunition and other weapons making their way to Haitian gangs via smuggling and shipments into privately owned ports.

The U.S. has been trying to get a special police force from Kenya deployed in Haiti, but that has been delayed by the ongoing violence and the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry in March. Jimmy Chérizier, a former Haitian police officer known by the nickname “Barbecue,” has become a central figure in the island’s crime and chaos.

On April 12, a Transitional Presidential Council was established to structure new elections, a new prime minister and deployment of an international police force.

But relief efforts have been challenging beyond the violence. A UN appeal to raise $720 million to help the situation raised 34% of that goal last year. Humanitarian groups have launched a new $674 million relief effort.


The situation in Haiti has resulted in more refugees heading to the U.S., some via boat to Florida and others entering the U.S. and seeking asylum via the border with Mexico.

U.S. Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, both Florida Republicans, wrote Biden last month voicing worries about the administration “opening the floodgates” to a mass migration from Haiti.

On the other side of the immigration issue, Haitian advocates and their U.S. allies slammed reports April 18 that the Biden administration had restarted flights to deport migrants.

“I am deeply outraged about recent reporting that the Department of Homeland Security has resumed deportations to Haiti. A country facing a political crisis of epic proportions, where basic human rights can no longer be protected, women and girls are being sexually abused on a daily basis, young boys are recruited into becoming child soldiers, over 5 million are heading towards famine, and 80% of the capital is controlled by gangs,” said U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-Florida).

“The reality is that life in Haiti is currently unbearable. Deportation, under these circumstances, is simply an act of atrocious cruelty. We are either the leader of the free world who welcomes all refugees seeking safety, or we’re not. I urge the Biden-Harris Administration to reverse this misguided decision and stop deportations immediately,” she said.


The current situation in Haiti has seen relief workers in peril, and Haiti has long been a haven for human and sex trafficking. The Dominican Republic has also fortified its border and cracked down on Haitian refugees and migrants.

Haiti has long been the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Its history has been littered by violence, poverty, coups and corruption. The U.S. occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934 — 18 years. That came after a violent mob killed Haiti’s tyrannical president in 1915 and President Woodrow Wilson sent in U.S. Marines at the behest of National City Bank of New York (which is now Citibank / Citigroup), which had taken the reins of Haiti’s central bank.

The Caribbean nation’s economic development has further been stunted by a series of payments it made to France over the years as part of its independence agreement. Haiti’s debt totaled $21 billion and was financed by Citibank and French banks.

While Florida, in particular Miami, and New York City have the largest Haitian populations in the U.S, Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Baltimore areas are home to a number of residents of Haitian ancestry.

Northern Virginia, Phoenix and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas have the largest Sudanese populations in the U.S. Van Hollen said efforts to draw attention to the Sudanese conflict need to continue.

“We’re going to need to grow our numbers. We’re going to need to make sure we are calling out injustice in Sudan,” he said.