[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
25219: Hermantin(News)U.S. issues travel warning to Haiti (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Posted on Fri, May. 27, 2005
U.S. issues travel warning to Haiti
The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning asking all U.S. citizens
to leave Haiti, including all nonemergency embassy employees and family
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
A day after a U.S. Embassy van was sprayed with bullets while traveling
through the streets of downtown Port-au-Prince, the State Department on
Thursday ordered the departure of all family members and nonemergency U.S.
Embassy personnel from Haiti.
The agency also urged all U.S. citizens to leave Haiti, reminding them that
there is ``a potential for spontaneous demonstrations and violent
confrontations between armed groups.''
The new travel warning and order to leave the country comes as the Haitian
National Police and a U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by the
acronym MINUSTAH, struggle to help Haiti combat its No. 1 problem: lack of
Battling, armed gangs have turned parts of Port-au-Prince, the capital, into
a war zone, and in recent months a rash of kidnappings has swept the
DANGER AT NIGHT
In authorizing the departure, the State Department also warned staff members
and their families to remain in their homes between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., and
said downtown Port-au-Prince was off-limits after dark.
''The problem is localized, but it hampers the embassy's ability to provide
logistical service and a safe working environment for embassy employees,''
said State Department spokeswoman Nancy Beck.
Beck said officials ordered the departure after concluding that ``there is
an increase in violent crime near certain U.S. facilities in Port-au-Prince
and that is affecting embassy employees.''
On Wednesday, the violence hit home for embassy employees when an unknown
number of assailants fired five rounds of bullets at an embassy van as it
traveled between embassy buildings at 5:30 a.m. in downtown Port-au-Prince.
None of the three employees was injured.
Still, the incident was a stark reminder to foreigners and Haitians of how
dangerous Haiti's streets remain, just five months before the country is
scheduled to hold elections to replace the government of President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was ousted last year.
Neither Beck nor a U.S. Embassy spokesperson in Port-au-Prince would say how
many employees will be affected by the authorization, but a statement
released in French by the embassy said it will remain open, and all of its
programs and activities will continue.
''Most of our diplomats remain in place and we remain committed to
fulfilling the U.S. mission in Haiti -- to secure good elections in 2005 and
to promote stability and security by addressing a wide range of critical
needs,'' the statement said. ``We continue to cooperate closely with the
interim government of Haiti, the Haitian National Police, MINUSTAH in
providing assistance for programs that will establish and secure conditions
for the people of Haiti.''
Haiti's interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said his government is making
progress in curbing the violence and rash of kidnappings.
''Things are moving,'' Latortue said in a telephone interview with The
``MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police are doing everything to reduce
violence. I do regreat the timing of this note,''