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Haiti’s Unrest Intensifies

Government fuel hikes have frustrated a population already grappling with record inflation and political instability.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
Haitians protest high prices and shortages.
Haitians protest high prices and shortages.
Haitians protesting high prices and shortages burn tires on a street of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 13. RICHARD PIERRIN/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Haiti’s intensifying unrest, Russian atrocities in Ukraine, and the world this week.

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Anger Intensifies Over Fuel Hikes in Haiti

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Haiti’s intensifying unrest, Russian atrocities in Ukraine, and the world this week.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Anger Intensifies Over Fuel Hikes in Haiti

After months of turmoil, violent protests have engulfed Haiti again after Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced he would impose painful fuel price hikes last week—frustrating a population already grappling with soaring costs of living and political instability. 

Thousands of Haitians took to the streets to protest the move and call for Henry’s resignation in an outpouring of anger that underscores the grim state of Haiti’s living conditions. As inflation soared to record highs, gang violence displaced thousands of people and food insecurity surged, leaving 40 percent of people dependent on food aid. 

Dominican President Luis Abinader said Haiti’s crisis amounted to a “low-intensity civil war.” “We must act responsibly, and we must act now,” he said. “Thousands of people are dying.” 

Henry was appointed Haiti’s caretaker leader after the assassination of former President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021—and he later became a suspect in Moïse’s death. Despite his promises to hold elections and curb gang violence, neither has happened yet, further fueling criticism and public demands for political change. 

Benjamin Hebblethwaite, an associate professor at the University of Florida, said Henry’s rule is seen as illegitimate. “Now we’re more than a year past the assassination, [and] he hasn’t organized any elections,” he said. “He has seen the society fragment in his own hands.”

In Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, gangs have been violently jockeying for power, with civilians paying the price. In July, more than 470 people died, disappeared, or were wounded due to gang violence in a span of less than 10 days, the United Nations said. It also warned that some gangs have started weaponizing food supplies and water to manipulate residents, further increasing malnutrition.

“The situation is spiraling out of control already,” Jean-Martin Bauer, the World Food Program’s Haiti country director, said in July. “The situation over the past 90 days has gotten worse … based on what is a very vulnerable place, we already had 1 million people in this city who were acutely food insecure.”

In a statement released Friday, the spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said the unrest had “brought the country to a standstill.” “He warns that if the current circumstances continue, the already dire humanitarian situation faced by Haiti’s most vulnerable people will deteriorate even further,” the spokesperson said. 


The World This Week 

Monday, Sept. 19: Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral is held.

Tuesday, Sept. 20: General debate opens at the United Nations General Assembly.

Wednesday, Sept. 21: U.S. House of Representative committee hearings are held on Russian crimes in Ukraine.

Thursday, Sept. 22: The U.N. Human Rights Council discusses Myanmar, Ethiopia, Syria, and Burundi.

Friday, Sept. 23: Saudi Arabia celebrates its National Day.


What We’re Following Today

Atrocities in Izyum. Ukrainian officials have uncovered mounting evidence of Russian atrocities in Izyum, Ukraine, which had been under Russian occupation until Ukrainian forces retook the city on Sept. 10. On Sunday, Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, said authorities had found proof of “war crimes of massive proportions.”

As reports of horrific crimes emerge—including a mass gravesite of more than 400 civiliansGuterres expressed his hopes that the International Criminal Court would investigate what happened while Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky called to establish a “special international tribunal.”

UNGA kicks off. World leaders are gathering in New York this week for the 77th session of the U.N. General Assembly, where high-level discussions and meetings are expected to focus on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as climate change and ongoing energy and food crises. All attending leaders are required to speak in person, with one special case: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was granted an exception.


Keep an Eye On 

Mobilized Eritrean soldiers. Eritrea has reportedly mobilized its forces on reserve to travel to the country’s territory bordering Ethiopia’s Tigray region in an apparent effort to shore up the Ethiopian government’s military. Fighting between Ethiopian government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front reignited in August, ending a five-month-long cease-fire.

Power returns to Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is now reconnected to the country’s power grid and getting electricity again after one of the facility’s main lines was fixed, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced on Saturday. It had previously been down for almost a week.


This Weekend’s Most Read

Kazakhstan Is Breaking Out of Russia’s Grip by Temur Umarov

Ukraine Put Putin in the Corner. Here’s What May Happen Next. by Amy Mackinnon, Robbie Gramer, and Jack Detsch

The Inflation Reduction Act Is the Start of Reclaiming Critical Mineral Chains by Morgan D. Bazilian and Gregory Brew


Odds and Ends 

German customs officials likely thought a child had lost a toy when they first spotted a giant 8-inch snail on an airport baggage truck. But then it moved—dispelling any of their misconceptions—and officials were able to follow the slimy trail it had left to discover bags with nearly 100 other giant snails, 62 pounds of meat and fish, and spoiled meat.

“Never in the history of the Duesseldorf customs office has a trail of slime led us to smuggled goods,” Michael Walk, the customs spokesperson, told The Associated Press.

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

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