U.S. State Dept. Updates Haiti Travel Warning, Dec. 4, 2014

Map of HaitiWashington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–December 4, 2014.  The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Haiti concerning the lack of adequate emergency medical facilities and the security environment in Haiti. This replaces the Travel Warning dated March 12, 2014 and provides updated information regarding the changing nature of crime involving United States citizens in Haiti.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when visiting Haiti given Haiti’s weak emergency response infrastructure.  Hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Haiti each year, but the poor state of Haiti’s emergency response network should be carefully considered when planning travel.  Travelers to Haiti are encouraged to use organizations that have solid evacuation and medical support options in place. (Please see the Country Specific Information page for Haiti.) 

Haiti’s emergency management infrastructure remains in poor condition.  Medical facilities, including ambulance services, are particularly weak.  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 visitors to Haiti to obtain evacuation insurance.  

Kidnappings are down sharply, with just one incident involving a U.S. citizen reported to the Embassy in 2014, continuing a dramatic decline in such crimes since 2011.  However, while the Government of Haiti has made progress in arresting and disrupting perpetrators, kidnapping for ransom can affect anyone in Haiti, most particularly those maintaining long-term residence in the country. 

We urge U.S. citizens to remain aware of the possibility of robbery, especially in the Port-au-Prince area and in particular soon after leaving the airport. From May to October 2014, there were 64 reported cases of U.S. citizens being robbed shortly after departing the airport, a spike associated with the busy travel period during the summer; a similar spike can occur during the holiday season, roughly from November through the New Years’ day.  Three of these robberies resulted in the death of U.S. citizens.  In almost all cases reported to the Embassy, the victims were U.S. citizens of Haitian descent intending to visit family and friends.  We recommend that U.S. citizens have their host/organization meet them at the airport upon arrival and/or have pre-arranged airport transfers and hotels, and be circumspect in sharing their travel plans.  We also urge U.S. citizens to exercise caution when visiting banks in Port-au-Prince.  Robbery crews have been known to surveil banks and rob customers shortly after departure. 

Regions of Haiti outside the capital have fewer reported incidents of crime.  However, the Haitian authorities’ ability to respond to emergencies is limited and in some areas nonexistent.  Embassy employees are required to adhere to certain required security and safety measures when traveling outside of Port-au-Prince, and they have restrictions on travel in certain areas or times.  Additionally, 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.  For additional details on restrictions on staff travel within Haiti, please see our Country Specific Information for Haiti.

The United Nations’ Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) remains in Haiti to support the activities of the Haitian National Police (HNP). The HNP, with assistance from MINUSTAH, is responsible for maintaining order and rendering assistance.  However, given the possibility and unpredictability of spontaneous protests, their ability to assist U.S. citizens during disturbances is very 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.

U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Haiti are urged 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 receipt of 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 Embassy of the United States of America 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.  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.


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