United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
April 30, 2008
This Travel Warning is being issued to advise American citizens to defer non-essential travel to Haiti until further notice. The civil unrest of early April has subsided, but the political and economic conditions that precipitated these events have not been entirely resolved. Conditions may occasionally limit Embassy operations to emergency services. Americans are also reminded of ongoing security concerns in Haiti, including frequent kidnappings of Americans for ransom. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Haiti issued on April 11, 2008.
In early April 2008, there were violent demonstrations, looting, transportation disruptions, and up to seven reported deaths in Les Cayes and Port-au-Prince. Some American citizens were temporarily stranded in isolated locations and could not safely travel until calm was restored. Because political and economic conditions precipitating the civil unrest have not been resolved, American citizens should defer non-essential travel to Haiti.
The absence of an effective police force in many areas of Haiti means that, should protests reignite, there is potential for looting, the erection of intermittent roadblocks set by armed protestors or by the police, and an increased possibility of random crime, including kidnapping, carjacking, home invasion, armed robbery and assault. Americans in Haiti should practice good personal security, take commonsense precautions, and avoid any event where crowds may congregate. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn violent. Americans should closely monitor news media and the U.S. Embassy’s website at: http://ht.usembassy.gov.
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, fourteen 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. 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 (restricts) travel by its staff to some areas outside of Port-au-Prince due to prevailing road and security conditions. This may constrain our ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port-au-Prince. Demonstrations and violence occasionally limit Embassy operations to emergency services, even within Port-au-Prince. 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 or with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. The Consular Section can be reached at (509) (2)229-8000 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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