Inside worlds most dangerous city – everyone is armed and Voodoo is normal

A travel expert who has visited all 197 countries in the world says that his most recent trip – to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince – is his most terrifying ever.

After a brief tour of the city’s gang-dominated slums, traveller and educator Drew Binsky said: “I am completely messed up in the head by what I just experienced."

In a video published on his popular YouTube channel, Drew dubbed the city "by far the most dangerous place in the world".

"I thought Mogadishu in Somalia or Kabul in Afghanistan had the crown but Port-au-Prince in Haiti is messed up.”

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Since the massive 2010 earthquake that left up to 300,000 people dead, the country has struggled to recover. After the country’s President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in 2021, the country has had no effective government. That’s reflected in the piles of festering rubbish visible on every street, where rats and chickens squabble over scraps of food.

Two main gangs, the Revolutionary Forces of the G9 Family and the G-Pep, control up to 90% of the capital. When police are seen, they patrol the city in massive armoured cars. Just to gain access to the Cité Soleil slum area, Drew had to pay tribute to the local G-Pep chieftain.

“If you don’t bow to their orders,” Drew’s guide tells him, “they’ll shoot you in the leg.” Cité Soleil can only be accessed by one road out of central Port-au-Prince, and it’s blocked by a checkpoint manned by heavily-armed G-Pep foot soldiers.

After 6pm, no-one is allowed in or out. Hospital staff arrive early in the morning but leave at midday because it’s too dangerous to stay later. Anyone injured in one of the regular shootouts after that time is simply left to die.

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It's rare to see an adult in Port-au-Prince who doesn't have a gun. The United Nations has estimated that more than 2,000 people had been killed in gang clashes between January and August 2023

In addition to the two main gangs, there’s also a heavily-armed anti-gang vigilante group that was set up to replace the institutionally-corrupt police force. The vigilantes have been known to burn captured gang members alive, and had assassinated a number of Haitian police officers that they believed to have gang connections.

The gangs have struck back against the vigilante groups with counter-attacks, killing community leaders who spoken out against the constant inter-gang warfare.

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In the Caribbean island less than 700 miles south of Florida, Drew saw people living in shocking, third-world conditions, with one man smashing open a can of condensed milk using the only tool he had – a pistol.

One young local girl, who scrapes a living together brewing up homemade soap, said she wasn’t bothered by the constant gunfire, because she’d never known anything else. In another Cité Soleil house, a middle-aged couple were performing a Voodoo ritual in hope of getting their son released from jail.

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Voodoo – a mish-mash of Christianity and West African traditional religions – is still openly practised among the poverty-stricken people of Haiti. With modern healthcare all but impossible to obtain, Voodoo rituals are relied upon to cure diseases as well as place curses on enemies.

With the average wage somewhere below £4 a day, there are few shops, just pop-up stalls offering hot dogs and fried breadfruit crawling with flies. Even fresh drinking water is impossible to find, with Drew settling for plastic bags of so-called mineral water that had a “strange taste”.

When he’s not risking life and limb visiting the world’s deadliest trouble spots, Drew runs courses for other would-be travel bloggers. You can contact him here.

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