MIAMI – The U.S. Embassy in Haiti issued a security alert on Wednesday warning U.S. citizens need to leave the troubled Caribbean country “as soon as possible”
The U.S. diplomats attributed the alert to the “security situation and infrastructure challenges” and urged the use of commercial or private transport at the international airports of Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien.
“There was the massacre in Carrefour-Feuilles where approximately 54 people lost their lives,” said Paul Christian Namphy, of the Family Action Network Movement, a social service agency that helps Haitian migrants in Miami-Dade County.
With an ongoing gang turf war involving regular murders and kidnappings, the U.S. diplomats also cautioned against braving roadblocks or participating in demonstrations or large gatherings.
Most recently, at least seven Haitians died during a street shooting after a pastor encouraged a church group to protest against the gang violence in their community, according to Haitian police.
Martha Herard was at Miami International Airport Thursday waiting for her cousin to arrive from Haiti after a parole program allowed her to wait with her family in Florida for her visa to become available.
“She is only 18 and she can’t even finish school because of all the shooting and all the raping and all that is going on, so it’s dangerous,” Herard said.
The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince had already announced the evacuation of non-emergency personnel and the families of the essential personnel last month.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry, slain President Jovenel Moïse’s successor, has been asking for the help of an international law enforcement force to help the Haitian police with the gang-related crisis.
The unrest exploded after a group of Colombian mercenaries were involved in Moïse’s murder in 2021. U.S. diplomats in Haiti encouraged U.S. citizens to book flights in advance and monitor local news and asked that any U.S. citizen experiencing travel challenges in Haiti contact ACSPAP@state.gov.
Here is a list of tips from the U.S. Embassy in Haiti:
- Use extreme caution in traveling around the country;
- Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings of people;
- If you encounter a roadblock, turn around and get to a safe area;
- Make and practice contingency plans for sheltering in place and/or accessing airports; and
- Review the guidance on travel to High-Risk Areas.