United States urges citizens to avoid travel to Haiti

Women walk in line outside of the Haitian Ministry of Justice and Public Security after protesters broke the gate and ask people inside to leave during a protest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti March 10, 2020.
REUTERS / Andres Martinez Casares

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department on Thursday raised its travel advisory on Haiti to “do not travel” from “reconsider travel” citing risks of crime, civil unrest and kidnapping on the impoverished Caribbean island nation.

Haitians have been struggling with a prolonged economic and political crisis, including weeks of violent protests and a three-month lockdown of shops and other businesses. Violence still flares sporadically.

The new travel advisory puts Haiti on a par with Syria, scarred by a long-running civil war, and China, which is grappling with the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 3,200 people worldwide.

“Demonstrations, tire burning, and roadblocks are frequent, unpredictable, and can turn violent,” it said in a statement. “Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.”

It said violent crime, such as armed robbery and carjackings, was common and kidnapping was widespread in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe (left) and President Jovenel Moise stand for the national anthem at the end of Jouthe’s inauguration ceremony in the National Palace of Port-au-Prince, Haiti March 4, 2020. REUTERS / Andres Martinez Casares

Haitian Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe promised on Wednesday during his first public appearance since his appointment by presidential decree that he would focus on fighting insecurity and inequality while boosting the economy.

(Reporting by Andre Paultre; Editing by Stefanie Eschenbacher and Peter Cooney)

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