US citizens urged to leave Haiti as soon as possible, as State Department flags ‘current security situation’

The US State Department on Wednesday urged all US citizens to leave the Caribbean country of Haiti as soon as possible.

“Given the current security situation and infrastructure challenges, US citizens in Haiti should depart Haiti by commercial or private transportation as soon as possible,” the State Department said in an updated security alert. “Several airlines and charter companies currently offer flights from Haiti’s international airports (Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien).”

“Flights fill up quickly and seats may become available days or weeks before departure. Given that there may be a limited number of seats available, US citizens should consider booking flights in advance,” the alert said. Added “Complete list of commercial airlines serving Haiti: American Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit.” Air Caribbean and Sunrise Airways.

“U.S. citizens wishing to leave Port-au-Prince should monitor local news and do so only if deemed safe,” the alert said. “Please contact [email protected] if you are having difficulty getting to Haiti or if you are applying or applying for the return of a US passport (or other travel document) to travel to the United States.” Required.”

Haitian police are investigating the murders of parishioners the priest led in the gang’s territory

A man walks through smoke from burning tires during a protest against insecurity in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on August 14, 2023. (Richard Perrin/AFP via Getty Images)

US citizens are urged to use extreme caution when traveling across the country and to avoid protests and large gatherings of people. Americans who may encounter a roadblock are encouraged to turn around and go to a safe area.

The State Department said to develop and implement emergency plans for shelter-in-place and/or airport access and to review guidance on travel to high-risk areas. According to State Department websites, travel to high-risk areas “may put you at risk of kidnapping, hostage-taking, theft, and serious injury.”

In high-risk areas, U.S. citizens are subject to the laws and legal system of the country they are visiting, and in many of these high-risk areas, the State Department says it “cannot help you. could.”

The security update did not say what led the State Department to issue it, but rising gang violence in the country has spurred local evacuations and protests.

Defenders of Haiti

Police stand guard as Colombian suspects are brought into a van to appear before an investigating judge scheduled for the assassination trial of President Juvenile Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Odeline Joseph)

Haiti’s national police director vowed on Monday to hold accountable those who encouraged hundreds of parishioners to pick up sticks and try to rid themselves of gang members over the weekend, only to be shot dead. .

Police Chief Franz Elbe said the group’s religious leader, identified as Markoriel Zador, attended Saturday’s protest and was accompanied by unidentified men armed with olive-green assault rifles. He and the parishioners were marching toward the community of Canaan.

The kidnapping of an American nurse and her daughter in Haiti has dealt a blow to aid efforts in the impoverished country

Albee said the group exchanged gunfire with gang members, and that “several” people were killed and several kidnapped, though he did not provide numbers.

Also this week, a judge in Haiti is questioning for the first time some of the 18 Colombian suspects arrested more than two years ago and accused of being mercenaries, according to the Associated Press. Was part of the squad that assassinated President Juvenile Moise.

Haitians are getting out of gang violence.

Residents evacuate the Carrefour Fuels commune in Port-au-Prince on August 15, 2023, as gang violence continues in the Haitian capital. (Richard Perrin/AFP via Getty Images)

The Colombian veterans had previously declined to speak when questioned by a judge previously assigned to the case. The first two suspects were taken Monday and Tuesday from the central prison in Haiti’s Port-au-Prince to a government office in nearby Petion-Ville, where they were being questioned by Judge Walther Wesser Voltaire.

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The 18 Colombians are among more than 40 suspects, including elite Haitian police officers, who were arrested in Haiti after Moise was shot dead at his private residence in July 2021. The investigation in Haiti has proceeded very slowly, due to the large number of judges overseeing the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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