Jamaica recovers from May 2010 outbreak of armed violence

19 Aug 2010

By Sonia Gill, UNDP Jamaica


Photo: UNDP in Jamaica
Police cordon a Kingston building damaged during May violence.

Kingston, Jamaica – More than 65 civilians died during operations to halt a wave of violent attacks in Jamaica’s capital Kingston in May as security forces pursued Christopher “Dudus” Coke, accused of running a drug cartel.

Fourteen police stations were attacked, Kingston’s municipal market was burned, three law enforcement officers were killed, and roads to the airport were blocked amid the violence and response of national security forces which focused on the district of Tivoli Gardens.

UNDP was able to provide immediate support for government coordination of the recovery effort. The office initiated a cash-for-work programme for community members who lost their livelihoods.

Among those who lost incomes were almost one thousand vendors, mainly women, who worked at Kingston’s Coronation Market, the country’s largest market, which was destroyed during the violence. UNDP funded the Kingston municipal authority to employ more than 300 local women and men to rehabilitate the market.

To support the Office of the Public Defender in its investigation of extra-judicial killings of civilians during the emergency, UNDP sent a team of pathology and ballistics experts - drawn from Canada, Australia, Colombia, Portugal and the United States - to observe autopsies and analyze physical evidence and crime scenes.

Additionally, UNDP facilitated the design and implementation of a government-led Community Renewal Programme, an interdepartmental response to the social, economic and security needs of western Kingston communities. Funds were also allocated to promote a national dialogue, including civil society partners, on immediate and longer term policy and legislative needs for transparency and accountability in governance.

UNDP is currently supporting the assessment of the economic and social costs to the country of the events that led to a state of emergency.