The gang violence sweeping Port-au-Prince is now spreading beyond the Haitian capital and affecting rural areas once considered safe, a UN report released Tuesday warned.

The report, which was jointly written by the United Nations human rights office and the UN political mission in Haiti, focuses on the Lower Artibonite sector (central), about 100 kilometers from the capital, where there has been a large increase in violence by gangs in the last two years.

From January 2022 to October 2023, at least 1,694 people were killed, injured or kidnapped there (350, 226 and 1,118 respectively), the text says, noting that kidnapping for ransom has now become a “constant fear of those using public means transportation”.

The report refers to the case of a young woman, 22, who was abducted while riding a bus by gang members in March. The woman was repeatedly beaten, raped and burned during her two-week-plus captivity. She committed suicide shortly after her release.

According to the text, gangs are ravaging villages they see as controlled by their “rivals”, not hesitating to murder residents, and increasingly engaging in sexual violence targeting women and little girls.

They also engage in destruction of goods, the UN report continues: “looting property, crops and livestock” and “destroying irrigation canals”, while imposing “taxes” on farmers. Their action has led to the forced displacement of “more than 20,000 people” from their villages, has reduced the surface of cultivated land and consequently further increased food insecurity, a problem that already had large dimensions (it is estimated that almost half the population is faced with the specter of hunger, including 45% of the inhabitants of Kato Artibonite).

Due to a “shocking increase in gang violence” that now controls 80% of the capital Port-au-Prince, the report calls for the “urgent” deployment of the “Kenyan-led multinational security force” that was given the go-ahead by the Council Security Council in October.

“The situation in Haiti is cataclysmic,” said the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, according to a press release published by his services in Geneva, underlining that the violence is especially affecting hospitals.

Mr. Turk emphasizes that at least 3,960 people have been murdered, 1,432 injured and 2,951 kidnapped in Haiti this year by gangs.

It also asks the Security Council to “update the list of persons and entities sanctioned by the UN for having supported, planned, ordered or committed” actions that grossly violate fundamental human rights in the Caribbean country.