United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
April 11 2008
This Travel Warning is being issued to inform American citizens of violent demonstrations in Haiti and to urge American citizens to defer non-essential travel to the country. Official Americans are restricted from travel to Haiti. American citizens visiting Haiti should consider departing as soon as circumstances permit. Americans in Haiti should remain vigilant in regard to their personal security, take commonsense precautions, and avoid any event where crowds may congregate. The violence may result in occasional limitation of Embassy operations to emergency services. Americans are also reminded of ongoing security concerns in Haiti, including frequent kidnappings of Americans for ransom. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Haiti issued on August 31, 2007.
In early April 2008, there was a violent outbreak of civil unrest in Haiti. Protestors angered by high food prices filled the streets of Port-au-Prince, forcing businesses and schools to close. Demonstrations continue and have frequently turned violent with firing of weapons, rock throwing, tire-burning, erection of street barricades, and looting. The violence has forced most people to stay indoors and stranded others in isolated locations. The demonstrations began in the southern city of Les Cayes, where four persons were reported killed during clashes with U.N. peacekeepers. Haitian National Police and U.N. troops are in the streets to restore order, using teargas and rubber bullets to disperse rioters and looters. Mobs, burning tires, and barricades along the main routes of the capital have disrupted access to the Port-au-Prince International Airport, which remains open.
American citizens should defer non-essential travel to Haiti at this time. Those visiting Haiti should consider departing as soon as circumstances permit. Americans in Haiti are advised to remain vigilant in regard to their personal security, take commonsense precautions, and avoid any event where crowds may congregate. Due to the absence of an effective police force in much of Haiti, there is a potential for looting, the presence of intermittent roadblocks set by armed gangs or by the police, and the possibility of random violent crime, including carjacking and assault. Americans in Haiti should closely monitor news media and the U.S. Embassy’s website at http://haiti.usembassy.gov/warden_information.html.
U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Haiti despite this warning are reminded that there is also a chronic danger of violent crime, especially kidnappings.
Most kidnappings are criminal in nature, and the kidnappers make no distinctions of nationality, race, gender or age; all are vulnerable. There were 29 reported kidnappings of Americans in 2007. As of the date of this Travel Warning thirteen Americans were reported kidnapped in 2008. Most of the Americans were abducted in Port-au-Prince. These kidnappings have been marked by deaths, brutal physical and sexual assault, and shooting of Americans. The lack of civil protections in Haiti, as well as the limited capability of local law enforcement to resolve kidnapping cases, further compounds the element of danger surrounding this trend.
Travel is always hazardous within Port-au-Prince. Official American visitors are restricted from traveling to Haiti at the present time. U.S. Embassy personnel are under an embassy-imposed curfew and must remain in their homes or in U.S. government facilities during the curfew. Some areas are off-limits to embassy staff after dark, including downtown Port-au-Prince. The embassy limits travel by its staff to areas outside of Port-au-Prince and therefore the ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port-au-Prince is constrained. The UN stabilization force (MINUSTAH) remains fully deployed and is assisting the government of Haiti in providing security.
The Department of State strongly advises U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Haiti to register either online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ or with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. The Consular Section can be reached at (509) 223-7011, fax number (509) 223-9665, or e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. Travelers should also consult the Department of State’s latest Country Specific Information for Haiti and the Worldwide Caution at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States or Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from overseas. In Haiti, citizens can call 509/222-0200, ext. 2000.
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