Looting is on the rise in Haiti. Among the victims: UNICEF and Guatemala’s consul

The widespread violence that took over Haiti’s capital on Feb. 29 has brought even more fears of a humanitarian crisis in Haiti. In one of the shelters for displaced families in Port-au-Prince, hundreds fight to get to the cooked meals distributed by the World Food Program. Thousands of families are living in shelters after being forced to flee their homes because of gang activity in their neighborhoods and dependent on food distributed by organizations and Haitian institutions like the civil defense. (AP Video: Pierre Luxama)

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — As Haiti once again spirals into chaos with another wave of gang violence, a number of government and aid agencies reported Saturday that their facilities and aid supplies have been looted.

Gangs have raged through Haiti in recent weeks, attacking key institutions and shutting down the main international airport. The chaos has pushed many Haitians to the brink of famine and left many more in increasingly desperate conditions.

On Saturday, UNICEF said one of its containers containing “essential items for maternal, neonatal, and child survival, including resuscitators and related equipment” were looted in the capital of Port-au-Prince’s main port, which was breached by gangs last week.

“Looting of supplies that are essential for life saving support for children must end immediately and humanitarian access must remain safe,” Bruno Maes, UNICEF representative in Haiti, said in a statement.

The aid agency said the looting and overall violence has further cut some of the country’s most vulnerable from basic supplies, coming “at a critical moment when children need them the most.”

That same day, the Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry said that the offices of its honorary consul in Haiti was ransacked, but didn’t give any details of damage or thefts, nor did it say who was responsible.

The ministry said only “paperwork and documentation of the last four or five years had been previously transferred” to the Guatemala Embassy for Haiti, which is located in the neighboring Dominican Republic.

Chaos is nothing new to Haiti, but the recent upheaval has been particularly brutaL The violence has left Haiti’s government in a state of turmoil and prompted Prime Minister Ariel Henry to pledge that he will resign, a key demand of the gangs.

The United States had flown in military forces to beef up security at the American Embassy and seemingly quash speculation that senior U.S. government officials might be leaving.

While Haiti’s main airport in Port-au-Prince remains closed following gang attacks, the U.S. State Department said it would be offering limited charter flights for American citizens from the less chaotic northern city of Cap-Haïtien. But it warned that U.S. citizens should consider the flights “only if you think you can reach Cap-Haïtien airport safely.”