US issues strongly worded travel advisory for Haiti

WASHINGTON, USA, Monday December 31, 2012 – The United States is warning its citizens about violent crime, infectious disease and poor medical facilities in Haiti.

The State Department has issued a revised travel advisory on the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country, which is still struggling in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people and is also battling an outbreak of cholera.

“US citizens have been victims of violent crime, including murder and kidnapping, predominantly in the Port-au-Prince area. No one is safe from kidnapping, regardless of occupation, nationality, race, gender, or age,” the State Department said.

The new travel warning, released on Friday, replaces a less strongly worded advisory issued in June.

Washington said that in recent months, visitors have been attacked and robbed after leaving the airport and that at least two US citizens were shot and killed in robbery and kidnapping incidents.

“Haitian authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate such violent acts, or prosecute perpetrators,” the State Department said, adding that while the incidents of cholera have declined, the disease persists in many areas of Haiti. Medical facilities, including ambulance services, are particularly weak.

“Thousands of US citizens safely visit Haiti each year, but the poor state of Haiti’s emergency response network should be carefully considered when planning travel. Travellers to Haiti are encouraged to use organizations that have solid infrastructure, evacuation, and medical support options in place,” the State Department added. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)