U.S. State Dept. Issues Haiti Travel Warning, July 18, 2016

Map of Haiti

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–July 18, 2016. The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Haiti about the lack of adequate emergency medical facilities, and the security environment in Haiti. Haiti’s emergency response network, along with the continued presence of serious crime and civil unrest, should be carefully considered when planning travel. This replaces the Travel Warning dated  August 5, 2015 and provides updated information regarding the changing nature of crime involving United States citizens in Haiti.

Emergency Response: Medical care infrastructure, including road ambulance and other emergency services, is very limited in Haiti. 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. We strongly encourage travelers to Haiti to obtain medical evacuation insurance prior to arrival in country and to use evacuation organizations that have solid evacuation and medical support options in place. Moreover, those traveling in rural areas of Haiti should verify their evacuation organization provides service to where they are traveling.

Crime:  Reports of kidnappings of U.S. citizens have fallen off sharply, with few incidents reported to the Embassy in 2016, but kidnapping for ransom can still affect anyone in Haiti, most particularly those maintaining long-term residency in the country. Armed robbery is a very real possibility, especially in the Port-au-Prince area and in particular soon after leaving the airport. Be circumspect in sharing specific travel plans; have your host or organization meet you at the airport upon arrival; and/or have pre-arranged airport transfers and hotels. Exercise caution when visiting banks in Port-au-Prince. Robbery crews have been known to survey banks and rob customers as they exit. Fewer incidents of crime are reported outside of Port-Au-Prince, but Haitian authorities’ ability to respond to emergencies is limited and in some areas nonexistent.

Embassy employees are required to adhere to all  security and safety measures of the Embassy’s Regional Security Office when traveling outside of Port-au-Prince, as well as restrictions on travel in certain areas or times. U.S. Embassy personnel are under an Embassy-imposed curfew from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and must remain at home or another safe facility during curfew hours. This may constrain the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port-au-Prince or regular business hours. Additionally, in Port-au-Prince and other cities, U.S. Embassy employees are advised not to walk in any area but rather drive to a destination and park as close as possible, choosing guarded or interior parking lots. This includes Petionville, an area of metropolitan Port-au-Prince of upscale hotels, shopping and restaurants frequented by residents and visitors. For additional details on restrictions on staff travel within Haiti, please see our Country Specific Information for Haiti.

Civil Unrest: Protests, including road and bridge blockages, are frequent and often spontaneous. The Haitian National Police (HNP), with assistance from the United Nations’ Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), is responsible for maintaining order and rendering assistance. However, the HNP’s ability to assist U.S. citizens during disturbances is limited. U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation that took place from Haiti in 2010, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Please see our website for additional information on how the Department of State assists U.S. citizens during a crisis.

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.

We strongly urge U.S. citizens 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, travel enrollment will enable you to 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 U.S. Embassy is located in Port-au-Prince at Boulevard du 15 Octobre, Tabarre 41, Tabarre, Haiti, telephone: (509) 2229-8000, facsimile: (509) 2229-8027, 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. In an emergency, after hours, on weekends and on holidays, please call (509) 2229-8000 and an automated attendant 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.