Armed gangs loot Haiti’s national library amid widespread violence forcing thousands to flee capital

Amid a renewed surge of violence this week, armed gangs were reported to have looted the country’s national library in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The library’s director, Dangelo Neard, told AFP that Haiti’s “documentary collection are in danger.” “We have rare documents over 200 years old, with importance to , which risk being burned or damaged by bandits,” he said. “I was told that thugs are taking away the institution’s furniture. They also ransacked the building’s generator.” Wednesday’s looting comes after assaults last week on the Ecole Normale Superieure and the National School of Arts. UNESCO has condemned the “devastating” attacks on education and artistic institutions in Port-au-Prince. Eric Jergenson, a who is now Senior Director of Security Operations Concentric Advisors, a risk management firm, told Digital that criminal gangs operating in the area typically carry out these attacks to “intimidate and/or to gain some sort of political advantage.” “Maybe they’re trying to exert their will or push an agenda of some sort,” Jergenson said. “And in this case, they’re probably… looking to intimidate or coerce the establishment to install a new government in Haiti.” The United Nations reported Tuesday that more than 53,000 people have fled Haiti’s capital in less than three weeks to escape unrelenting gang violence. More than 60% are headed to Haiti’s rural southern region.The southern region already hosts more than 116,000 Haitians who previously left Port-au-Prince, according to the report by the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration.The exodus from the capital began shortly after powerful gangs launched a series of attacks on government institutions in late February. Gunmen have burned police stations, opened fire on the main international airport that remains closed and stormed Haiti’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.More than 1,500 people have been reported killed up to March 22, and another 17,000 have been left homeless, according to the U.N.The violence forced Prime Minister Ariel Henry to announce last month that he would resign once a transitional presidential council is created. Henry was in Kenya to push for the U.N.-backed deployment of a police force from the East African country when the attacks began, and he remains locked out of Haiti.The transitional council, which will be responsible for choosing a new prime minister and council of ministers, has yet to materialize.