The Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante family mourns the death of our beloved colleague, Phyzeme Isly, who was the victim of an arson attack on a ZL staff residence during the early hours of Thursday, April 21st. The attack came in the immediate aftermath of the announcement of final election results for local officials shortly after midnight in Belladère, a Haitian community near the Dominican border. During the attacks, government buildings and vehicles were also set ablaze.
ZL staff across Haiti grieve the loss of their dearly loved colleague, Phyzeme (whose name means "beloved son" in Haitian Creole). Born in 1967 in Grand Riviere du Nord in the North of Haiti, Phyzeme worked for the last nine years as the head laboratory technician for PIH/ZL in Belladère, at the Haitian Ministry of Health’s Hopital de la Nativite. As one of the longest serving PIH/ZL staff in Belladère, Phyzeme was a key figure in improving the quality of care at this site by ensuring that patients had continued access to laboratory services. Before moving to Belladère, he completed his year of social service in the neighboring town of Lascahobas.
PIH/ZL expresses their sincere condolences to the family that Phyzeme has left behind, including his 10-year-old son, Wansly. PIH/ZL strongly condemns the violence that has occurred, which has not only taken the life of our beloved colleague, but wounded others.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Phyzeme's family and all of our Belladère colleagues," says PIH Executive Director Ophelia Dahl. "Such violence is deplorable, and strikes a community already struggling with poverty and injustice."
PIH/ZL calls upon the Haitian authorities, with whom we are working, to pursue justice and restore peace in the city of Belladère; and calls on the UN to restore security in the area.
In a typical strong exhibition of solidarity, the ZL family across Haiti has united to show their support for their colleagues in Belladère. Immediately following the attack, the ZL team mobilized to secure the safety of all ZL staff in Belladère, resulting in their evacuation to our sister site in a neighboring border town in the Dominican Republic. PIH/ZL is providing psychosocial and financial support to the staff who lost most of their belongings in the fire.
Details surrounding the motivations behind the attack remain unknown as political violence continues in Belladère. Gunshots and roadblocks are being reported as the story unfolds even now.