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Travel Warning: Haiti

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Consular Affairs issued a Travel Warning for Haiti on June 18. It reads as follows:

Haiti

June 18, 2012

The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Haiti about the security situation in Haiti. This replaces the Travel Warning dated August 8, 2011, to update information regarding the crime level, the prevalence of cholera, lack of adequate infrastructure – particularly in medical facilities – seasonal severe inclement weather, and limited police protection. The United Nations’ Stabilization Force for Haiti (MINUSTAH) remains in Haiti.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when visiting Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of Americans 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 infrastructure, evacuation, and medical support options in place. (Please see the Country Specific Information page for Haiti.) 

U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime, including murder and kidnapping, predominately in the Port-au-Prince area. No one is safe from kidnapping, regardless of occupation, nationality, race, gender, or age. In recent months, travelers arriving in Port-au-Prince on flights from the United States were attacked and robbed shortly after departing the airport. At least two U.S. citizens were shot and killed in such incidents. Haitian authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate such violent acts, or prosecute perpetrators.

The authorities’ ability to respond to emergencies is limited and in some areas nonexistent. Should a traveler find him or herself in an emergency, local health, police, judicial and physical infrastructure limitations mean that travelers find themselves with few local resources available to help them to resolve their problem. For this reason, the Embassy limits travel by its staff to areas outside of Port-au-Prince, which constrains our ability to provide emergency services to U.S. Citizens outside of Port-au-Prince.

U.S. Embassy personnel are under an Embassy-imposed curfew of midnight to 5:00 a.m. and must remain at home or other safe facility during curfew hours. Additionally, there are restrictions on travel by Embassy staff in certain areas or times. This may constrain the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside Port-au-Prince. For additional details on restrictions on staff travel within Haiti, please see our Country Specific Information for Haiti.

The Haitian National Police (HNP), with assistance from MINUSTAH, is responsible for keeping peace and rendering assistance. However, given the possibility and unpredictability of violent protests, its 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.

Haiti’s infrastructure remains in poor condition and unable to support normal activity, much less crisis situations. 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. Given these conditions and the cost of private evacuations, we strongly encourage visitors to Haiti to obtain evacuation insurance, including for medical issues that may arise.

While incidents of cholera have declined significantly, cholera persists in many areas of Haiti. Prior to travel, U.S. citizens should also obtain information about cholera and other health related issues by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov.

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 at www.osac.gov.

U.S. citizens are also urged 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 warden 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) (2) 229-8000, facsimile: (509) (2) 229-8027, email: acspap@state.gov 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) (2) 229-8000. The Marine guard 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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