The United States Department of States has urged Americans to leave Haiti as the country continues to face political crises with insecurity fuelled by severe lack of fuel distribution. In a rare security alert, the US embassy in Haiti asked its citizens to depart Haiti in view of the current security situation and infrastructure challenges. It is to be mentioned that Haiti is grappling severe fuel crisis as police struggle to control gangs that have blocked gas supply terminals for several weeks.
“Widespread fuel shortages may limit essential services in an emergency, including access to banks, money transfers, urgent medical care, internet and telecommunications, and public and private transportation options,” the US Embassy in Haiti said in a statement on November 10. Owing to large swaths of transport systems being paralysed, the embassy authorities added that Americans in Haiti must make plans to depart “now” via commercial means. “The U.S. Embassy is unlikely to be able to assist US citizens in Haiti with departure if commercial options become unavailable. Seats on commercial flights currently remain available,” the statement added.
Haiti: We urge U.S. citizens to make plans to depart Haiti now via commercial means. U.S. citizens should carefully consider the risks of traveling to or remaining in Haiti in light of the current security situation and infrastructure challenges. https://t.co/CtK1GBgTQN pic.twitter.com/3miCuLLf8m
Meanwhile, the embassy has been unable to provide a tally of US citizens in Haiti. However, those choosing to travel to a foreign country are not required to register with the embassy, a state department official told the Associated Press. Notably, on 5 November, the US embassy in Port-au-Prince has rescheduled all visa appointments through Friday, 12 November but has kept services open for US citizens. The embassy officials also urged the travellers to remain vigilant and avoid “unnecessary travel” within the country as the security situation remains “unpredictable.”
“As a reminder, Haiti has a Level 4 “DO NOT TRAVEL” Travel Advisory for kidnapping, crime, and civil unrest,” the US embassy said in a statement earlier this week.
On Wednesday, Canada issued similar warnings asking its denizens to “consider leaving” if can be done safely. The warnings come as the US and Haitian authorities continue to secure the release of 17 members of the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries missionary group, who were kidnapped by the Mawozo gang in October. Apart from the US citizens, there is one Canadian and 5 children among the captive, the Associated Press reported.
“The kidnapping took place on October 16 and we are still waiting and praying for the group of 17 to be released, if God so wills,” Christian Aid Ministries wrote on their website on Wednesday.
Fuel shortages in the country have also bolstered the already taught situation in Haiti. On Tuesday, top government officials in Haiti acknowledged the widespread crisis of gasoline supply, however, adding no further details on how they are planning to resolve the issues, as per AP. Haitian Defence Minister Enold Joseph also asserted that the government has launched a probe into the disappearance of 30 fuel tankers sent to southern regions and the spike in the sale of fuel in the black market. Several fuel truck drivers have also been reported to be kidnapped in the past few days, a local newspaper Le Nouvelliste mentioned.
(With inputs from AP)