The Trump Department of State on May 22nd warned U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Haiti due to its current security environment and lack of adequate medical facilities and response. The latest travel advisory warns against travel to the areas of Petionville and the storm-damaged southern peninsula departments of Grand Anse and Sud and replaces the Travel Warning dated November 4, 2016.
The latest Haiti travel warning says the US remains concerned about the security situation in the southern peninsula departments of Grand Anse and Sud following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and medical care infrastructure, ambulances, and other emergency services throughout Haiti.
The US State Department also noted that rates of kidnapping, murder, and rape in the Caribbean island rose in 2016 and kidnapping for ransom can affect anyone in Haiti, particularly long-term residents and that armed robberies and violent assaults reported by U.S. citizens have risen in recent years.
“Avoid all demonstrations. The Haitian National Police’s ability to assist U.S. citizens during disturbances is limited. Have your own plans for quickly exiting the country if necessary,” the US government statement said.
It added: “Do not share specific travel plans with strangers. Be aware that newly arrived travelers are targeted. Arrange to have your host or organization meet you at the airport upon arrival or pre-arranged airport to hotel transfers. Be cautious when visiting banks and ATMs, which are often targeted by criminals,” said the warning.
The State Department also revealed that U.S. Embassy employees are under a curfew from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.; are discouraged from walking in city neighborhoods, including in Petionville and are urged to visit only establishments with secured parking lots.
The State Department updated travel warning on Haiti came on the same day Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly, grudgingly granted a maximum six-month Temporary Protected Status extension to the 58,000 Haitian immigrants who have been in the US since 2016.
But the extension warned: “use the time before Jan. 22, 2018 to prepare for and arrange … departure from the United States.”
The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, (CIS), also repeated this in their notice advising Haitian beneficiaries on how to re-register.
“During this six-month extension, beneficiaries are encouraged to prepare for their return to Haiti in the event Haiti’s designation is not extended again, including requesting updated travel documents from the government of Haiti,” the statement issued on May 24, 2017 said.
Kelly for his part claimed that there are indications that Haiti may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018 since the country has made progress across several fronts since the devastating earthquake in 2010
“The Haitian economy continues to recover and grow, and 96 percent of people displaced by the earthquake and living in internally displaced person camps have left those camps. Even more encouraging is that over 98 percent of these camps have closed,” he added. “Also indicative of Haiti’s success in recovering from the earthquake seven years ago is the Haitian government’s stated plans to rebuild the Haitian President’s residence at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, and the withdrawal of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.”
However, it seems while Kelly believes Haiti is good enough for Haitians, the State Department does not believe its good enough for US citizens.