Port-au-Prince, Jul 27 (EFE).- The United States government issued a security alert Thursday recommending that US citizens in Haiti leave the Caribbean nation amid a surge in violence.
“Given the recent armed clashes between gangs and the police and the high threat of violent crime and kidnapping throughout Port-au-Prince, the Department of State urges US citizens to make plans to depart Haiti as soon as possible via commercial means,” reads a statement posted on the US Embassy website.
“The US government is extremely limited in its ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Haiti,” the embassy warned.
Even prior to Thursday’s alert, the State Department had a Level 4 travel advisory (“Do Not Travel”) for Haiti due to growing lawlessness.
“Kidnapping is widespread and victims regularly include US citizens,” according to the advisory.
On Wednesday, the embassy ordered staff and their families not to leave the mission grounds “until further notice” amid intense gunbattles in the vicinity.
Gangs, using sophisticated weapons supplied by factions within the Haitian economic elite who benefit from chaos, have effectively taken control of large areas of this capital, denying residents access to food, water, health care, and other necessities.
Thousands of residents have been driven from their homes.
Half of Haiti’s roughly 11 million people live in extreme poverty and suffer from food insecurity.
The country has few functioning institutions and the opposition views the government of unelected Prime Minister Ariel Henry as illegitimate, suspected by many in Haiti of having had a hand in the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.