Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–December 29, 2012.
The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Haiti about the current security situation. This replaces the Travel Warning dated June 18, 2012, updating information regarding the level of crime, the presence of cholera, lack of adequate infrastructure – particularly in medical facilities – seasonal severe inclement weather, and limited police protection. The United Nations’ Stabilization Force for Haiti (MINUSTAH) remains in Haiti.
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when visiting Haiti. Thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Haiti each year, but the poor state of Haiti’s emergency response network should be carefully considered when planning travel. Travelers to Haiti are encouraged to use organizations that have solid infrastructure, evacuation, and medical support options in place. (Please see the Country Specific Information page for Haiti.)
U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime, including murder and kidnapping, predominantly in the Port-au-Prince area. No one is safe from kidnapping, regardless of occupation, nationality, race, gender, or age. In recent months, travelers arriving in Port-au-Prince on flights from the United States were attacked and robbed shortly after departing the airport. At least two U.S. citizens were shot and killed in robbery and kidnapping incidents in 2012. Haitian authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate such violent acts, or prosecute perpetrators.
The ability of local authorities to respond to emergencies is limited and in some areas nonexistent. Should you find yourself in an emergency, local health, police, judicial, and physical infrastructure limitations mean there are few local resources available to help resolve the problem. For this reason, the Embassy limits its staff’s travel in areas outside of Port-au-Prince. This in turn constrains our ability to provide emergency services to U.S. Citizens outside of Port-au-Prince.
U.S. Embassy personnel are under an Embassy-imposed curfew of 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and must remain at home or at another safe facility during curfew hours. Additionally, there are restrictions on travel by Embassy staff in other areas or times. This, too, may constrain the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside Port-au-Prince. For additional details on restrictions on staff travel within Haiti, please see our Country Specific Information for Haiti.
The Haitian National Police (HNP), with assistance from MINUSTAH, are responsible for keeping the peace and rendering assistance. However, given the possibility and unpredictability of protests, including the potential (as with any protest) to become violent, its ability to assist U.S. citizens during disturbances is very limited. Please see our website for additional information on how the Department of State assists U.S. citizens during a crisis.
Haiti’s infrastructure remains in poor condition and unable to fully support even normal activity, much less crisis situations. U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation that took place after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Medical facilities, including ambulance services, are particularly weak. Some U.S. citizens injured in accidents and others with serious health concerns have been unable to find necessary medical care in Haiti and have had to arrange and pay for medical evacuation to the United States. Given these conditions and the cost of private evacuations, we strongly encourage visitors to Haiti to obtain evacuation insurance, including for medical issues that may arise.
While incidents of cholera have declined significantly, cholera persists in many areas of Haiti. Prior to travel, U.S. citizens should obtain information about cholera and other health-related issues by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov.
We urge U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Haiti to review our Country Specific Information page. U.S. private sector organizations with operations in Haiti can obtain additional information on the security situation in the country through the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). OSAC’s mission is to promote security cooperation between U.S. private sector interests worldwide and the U.S. Department of State. OSAC also maintains an active Country Council in Haiti to promote the exchange of security-related information. The Council is comprised of security professionals and is co-chaired by the Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince and a private sector representative. U.S. private sector entities can obtain additional information on OSAC by visiting the OSAC website at www.osac.gov.
U.S. citizens are also urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information. While the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency consular services is extremely limited, by enrolling in STEP travelers can receive security messages via email. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States; callers outside the United States and Canada can receive the information by calling a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except U.S. federal holidays. The Embassy of the United States of America is located in Port-au-Prince at Boulevard du 15 Octobre, Tabarre 41, Tabarre, Haiti, telephone: (509) (2) 229-8000, facsimile: (509) (2) 229-8027, email: [email protected] American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit office hours are 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Consular Section is closed on U.S. and local holidays. After hours, on weekends and on holidays, please call (509) (2) 229-8000. The Marine guard will connect you with the Embassy Duty Officer.
U.S. citizens can also stay informed about conditions in Haiti by following the Embassy and ACS on Twitter and Facebook. Travelers can have the latest travel information at their fingertips by downloading our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes and the Android market.