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The State Department has ordered U.S. government personnel to leave Haiti, issuing a “do not travel” advisory for the country amid soaring gang violence and civil unrest.
The Biden administration updated its advisory Thursday to order all nonemergency government personnel, including those at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, to immediately leave the country, citing the widespread risk of kidnapping.
“Kidnappers may use sophisticated planning or take advantage of unplanned opportunities, and even convoys have been attacked,” the State Department warned. “Kidnapping cases often involve ransom negotiations and U.S. citizen victims have been physically harmed during kidnappings. [Victims’] families have paid thousands of dollars to rescue their family members.”
The U.S. is advising government employees to monitor local news and depart when it is safe to do so.
Violent crime is on the rise in Haiti amid a humanitarian and security crisis on the Caribbean island nation. Gangs have taken control of much of Port-au-Prince and have recruited children as young as 8 years old, The Associated Press reported last month.
Protests and mob violence are also escalating, with the State Department saying it has a limited ability to protect government employees. Local police also lack the resources to respond to crimes and emergency incidents.
The State Department advised departing government personnel to avoid using public transportation, visiting banks, driving at night or traveling without approval and security measures in place.
This article was obtained via The Hill.