Canada, US issue Haiti travel advisory following upsurge in crime

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Haiti anti-riot soldier (Credit: Caribbean360/Bigstock)

OTTAWA, Canada, Saturday June 28, 2014, CMC – The Canadian and United States governments have warned their nationals about traveling to Haiti in light of what they view as an increase in crime in some parts of the earthquake-ravaged, French-speaking Caribbean country.

“There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Haiti. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to high crime rates in various parts of the country and ongoing political tensions,” said Canada in a statement, warning against non-essential travel to the neighbourhoods of Martissant, Carrefour, Bel Air and Cité Soleil, in the Port-au-Prince area, “as the security situation is particularly unstable and dangerous.

“The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice.

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“In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted,” the government said in the statement.

It said that the neighbourhoods of Martissant, Carrefour, Bel Air and Cité Soleil, in the Port-au-Prince area “continue to be dangerous due to criminal activity,” adding that local authorities lack the “capacity to ensure order.

“Personal safety and a police presence are not guaranteed. The police are unable to respond in a timely manner to calls for assistance in these areas, and it is strongly advised to avoid going out after nightfall,” it said.

The Canadian government also said that the security situation is “hazardous and very unpredictable.

“Remain extremely vigilant wherever you are in the country. Criminal activity is especially evident in large centres such as downtown Port-au-Prince, where armed gangs continue to operate,” it said.

“There has recently been an increase in armed robberies targeting travellers, particularly foreigners of Haitian origin, arriving on international flights at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince,” it said, noting that in most cases the victims’ vehicles are followed by criminals on motorcycles.

“Criminal gangs have committed robberies by erecting roadblocks. If you have to travel through this area, remain extremely vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities,” Canada said, noting that murder, kidnapping, armed robberies, burglaries and carjackings have been known to occur even in daylight hours.

The Canadian government said the general Haitian population, regardless of social class, ?can be considered at risk of being kidnapped.

In issuing a similar travel advisory, the consular section of the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince said it has “noted a recent increase in the number of travelers who have been victims of robbery shortly after departing Toussaint Louverture International Airport.

“In most cases, victims report that they were followed by armed individuals on motorcycles shortly after leaving the airport and robbed of cash and other portable valuables,” the statement said, urging Americans to ensure that they are picked up at the airport by their host.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said 73 people have been murdered so far this month, compared to 54 in May, 66 in April, and 45 in March.

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