The United States government is urging Americans that they should “consider departing Haiti now” as it issued a Level 4 advisory for the French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country.
“Do not travel to Haiti due to kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and poor health care infrastructure. US citizens in Haiti should consider departing Haiti now by commercial or other privately available transportation options, in light of the current security situation and infrastructure challenges. US citizens wishing to depart Port-au-Prince should monitor local news and only do so when considered safe,” said the US State Department.
It said kidnapping is widespread, and victims regularly include US citizens.
“Kidnappers may use sophisticated planning or take advantage of unplanned opportunities, and even convoys have been attacked. Kidnapping cases often involve ransom negotiations and US citizen victims have been physically harmed during kidnappings. Victims’ families have paid thousands of dollars to rescue their family members,” it said.
The State Department said that violent crime, such as armed robbery, carjackings, and kidnappings for ransom that include American citizens are common.
“Mob killings against presumed criminals have been on the rise since late April. Travelers are sometimes followed and violently attacked and robbed shortly after leaving the Port-au-Prince international airport. Robbers and carjackers also attack private vehicles stuck in heavy traffic congestion and often target lone drivers, particularly women. As a result, the US Embassy requires its personnel to use official transportation to and from the airport,”’ the statement said.
Last week, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, described Haiti as a “tragic situation” noting that a number of people have been killed, several are unable to live their lives and that the country also faces dramatic food insecurity.
The UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) said in the month of April alone, more than 600 people were killed in violence in the country’s capital. This follows the killing of at least 846 people in the first three months of 2023.
BINUH said that overall, the number of victims of killings, injuries and kidnappings increased by 28 per cent in the first quarter of the year, with a total of 1,634 cases reported.
In its advisory, Washington said that protests, demonstrations, tire burning, and roadblocks are frequent, unpredictable, and can turn violent and that the “US government is “extremely limited in its ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Haiti”.
It warned US citizens that should they decide to travel to Haiti, avoid demonstrations and crowds and do not attempt to drive through roadblocks.
It listed a number of measures American citizens should take while in Haiti as well as purchasing travel insurance and medical evacuation insurance ahead of time.