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First Person: ‘Our Tears are Dry, We are Exhausted’ – Youth Voices in Haiti

A youth activist in Haiti has described how years of gang violence, kidnappings and insecurity in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, has forced their “tears to run dry.”

In this country, the preferred food for dogs and pigs is the fresh bodies they find on the streets of the city.

Daily life continues on the streets of Port-au-Prince, despite the insecurity. © UNOCHA/Giles Clarke.

Port-au-Prince. The security situation has worsened in the Caribbean country since then. In the first three months of 2024, over 2,500 people have been killed or injured due to gang violence, according to the United Nations mission in the country, BINUH.

Duval Dormeus is part of a group supported by the UN Peacebuilding Fund and was first interviewed by UN News back in July 2022.

Mr. Dormeus told UN News how he has managed to get by over the past two years.

“I am looking at the bad state of my country. I am looking at the lives of people whose lives are burdened with violence and misery. I’m watching how people have become resigned to poverty.

There are more bandits, and I’m watching how they are turning Haitians into refugees in their own country.

Duval Dormeus

Duval Dormeus © Duval Dormeus.

Banditry, prostitution and kidnapping are the big businesses here.

I am looking at the insecurity that does not spare anyone – entrepreneurs, artists, students, traders, we are all affected.

I’m looking at a dead-end country. I’m looking at how 14-year-old children are forced into prostitution by adults.

In this country, the preferred food for dogs and pigs is the fresh bodies they find on the streets of the city.

Misery, death, squalor and unemployment are all on the rise. We can hear the sound of gunfire, and there are deaths every day.

Many young men no longer believe in hard work and patience.

Fires burn on streets in the Cité Soleil area of Port-au-Prince.

Fires burn on streets in the Cité Soleil area of Port-au-Prince. © UNOCHA/Giles Clarke.

A place of war

I still live in the Cité Soleil neighbourhood, a place of war, a place of misery, even though as a country Haiti is barely habitable. But, despite everything, we are resilient. This is how we survive.

Everything that is happening in front of me makes me tired. I want to find refuge somewhere, but I cannot hide as I need to resist.

My breath is exhausted, and our tears, the tears of young people, are dry.

I’ve seen too much for someone of my age. My head is spinning, but my brain will not stop thinking, so I continue to fight.

Motivating young people

I have continued to work in a community organisation [Comité Consultatif de Jeunes] which supports young people. We are working hard in areas which are affected by gang violence to reduce juvenile delinquency.

We do this through group activities, getting young people together from neighbourhoods which are controlled by different gangs to discuss the challenges they face and their hopes for the future.

I am paid for these group activities, and this is how I survive.

Despite the many problems, I feel as though I have grown in the last two years due to my work in the community. I am always available to motivate and support other young people.

I would like to get to know youth from other countries to exchange ideas and to understand how they deal with the problems they face, including climate change, technology and sustainable development.

When I first spoke to UN News, my identity was protected for security reasons. I was anonymous.

Even though the situation is now more dangerous, I want to show my face and demonstrate the sort of person I am.

I know there are risks but, in this way, I think my family, my friends and the community will be better protected.

Comité Consultatif des Jeunes is part of a program called Semans Lapè (seeds of peace) which is managed by the non-governmental organisation Concern Worldwide. It has been funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund in line with the U.N.’s youth, peace and security agenda, which calls for the full participation of young people in issues of peace and security in their communities.

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