August 2, 2023 -In a move of heightened concern for safety, the U.S. State Department has directed all non-emergency personnel to exit Haiti, simultaneously discouraging others from journeying to the Caribbean nation.
This action occurred in the wake of the abduction of two U.S. citizens on Haitian soil, and coincidentally, a day after U.S. diplomatic corps members received orders to stay within U.S. premises.
U.S. State Department issues Level-4 advisory
The Level-4 advisory explicitly cautions, “Do not travel to Haiti due to kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and poor health care infrastructure.”
“The Department of State ordered the departure of family members of U.S. government employees and non-emergency U.S. government employees,” it further said.
The advisory also counsels U.S. citizens in Haiti to vacate the country as soon as possible using commercial or privately arranged transport, given the escalating security situation and infrastructural hardships.
The directive coincides with discussions of an international armed force potentially being deployed to Haiti and appeals for a restoration of law and order due to escalating security concerns.
Violence on American citizens in Haiti
The issuance of the directive followed not only the abduction of a community health nurse and her child affiliated with the nonprofit organization, El Roi Haiti, but also the aftermath of unrest that resulted in at least 10 fatalities from a radio station assault.
Moreover, an attack on several neighborhoods led hundreds of Haitians to seek refuge at the gates of the U.S. embassy, fleeing from gangs.
The advisory also instructs, “U.S. citizens wishing to depart Port-au-Prince should monitor local news and only do so when considered safe,” the alert said. It further highlights the regularity of violent crime, frequently involving firearms such as armed robbery, carjackings, and kidnappings for ransom, which often include U.S. citizens.
Meanwhile, U.S. government employees are restricted to the area surrounding the Embassy and forbidden from walking in Port-au-Prince. They are also barred from using public transportation or taxis, visiting banks and ATMs, driving at night, traveling between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., and traveling without prior approval and specific security measures.
The alert was triggered by the ongoing security crisis and infrastructural obstacles, with no specific incident serving as a catalyst.
Among recent reports, Alix Dorsainvil, a U.S. citizen from New Hampshire, and her child were abducted. Dorsainvil, married to Sandro Dorsainvil, the founder and director of El Roi Haiti, was serving her community ministry when she and her child were taken, according to the group’s “Urgent Prayer Request” on the El Roi website.
The State Department confirmed its awareness of the abduction, its contact with Haitian authorities, and vowed to continue working with them and U.S. government interagency partners.
In an unrelated incident on July 23, approximately 50 heavily armed men with assault rifles attacked the town of Liancourt in Haiti’s Artibonite region. They razed the Radio Antarctique studio and numerous houses in the area, killing at least four residents, injuring 10, and abducting 10, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ report.
That same weekend, hundreds of residents from neighborhoods surrounding the U.S. Embassy sought refuge in the compound’s courtyard following a gunfire eruption in nearby Tabarre, Dumornay, and Truittier. By July 25, Haitian police had dispersed the crowd of displaced locals using tear gas, an operation that led to numerous injuries.
Since the assassination of Prime Minister Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, the rising wave of gang activities in Haiti has prompted locals and foreign nationals alike to flee, inciting the U.S. to issue high-alert travel warnings to its citizens, including a “Do Not Travel” alert, the highest travel advisory, in March 2020.