Port-au-Prince, Haiti — The U.S. Embassy in Haiti announced its closure due to escalating violence in the area. This decision comes after months of ongoing violence committed by gangs, which has led to widespread insecurity and a demand for better security measures.
In an effort to protect its personnel, the embassy has restricted all staff members to the embassy compounds until further notice. The statement posted on the embassy’s website and social media platforms also cautioned U.S. nationals in Port-au-Prince to avoid the surrounding area, including any demonstrations or large gatherings of people.
The closure of the embassy occurred the day following a massive protest in which thousands of individuals, their identities concealed, marched through the capital demanding protection from the violent gangs that have been wreaking havoc in local neighborhoods for months.
The constant gang violence has deeply disrupted the daily lives of Haitians and exacerbated the country’s poverty crisis. As Haitians await a decision from the U.N. Security Council regarding the potential deployment of an international armed force, they are demanding increased security measures. During the protest, participants chanted, “We want security!” as they marched for two hours from Carrefour-Feuilles to Champ de Mars and then to the prime minister’s residence, where police dispersed the demonstration using tear gas.
Wilene Joseph, a 36-year-old street vendor and mother of two, expressed her frustration with the situation, stating, “I can’t work. I can’t go out. I’m like a prisoner in my own home.” Joseph’s concern for her children’s safety reflects the widespread fear among Haitians due to the constant threat of violence. The gangs, which have seized control of up to 80% of Port-au-Prince since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, continue to instill terror within communities already struggling with poverty.
According to the latest U.N. report, between January and March, over 1,600 people were reported killed, injured, or kidnapped, representing a nearly 30% increase compared to the previous three months. Kidnappings have particularly spiked, with UNICEF reporting almost 300 confirmed cases this year alone. The agency noted that women and children are increasingly being targeted for financial or tactical gain.
The kidnapping of Alix Dorsainvil, a U.S. nurse, and her daughter exemplifies the growing danger facing Haitians. Dorsainvil works for El Roi Haiti, a Christian organization that provides medical care and other services. She and her daughter remain in captivity, with their captors demanding $1 million in ransom. The rise in kidnappings has left parents deeply concerned for the safety of their children, with fears that gangs could snatch them on their way to and from school.
The current situation in Haiti is not only a security crisis but also a humanitarian one, as the violence further drives individuals into poverty. Mario Jenty, a cell phone vendor who joined the recent march, expressed his determination to resist the gangs and protect his community. “I’d rather die than leave my community,” he affirmed.
As Haitians continue to face the consequences of ongoing violence, it is crucial for national and international authorities to address the security crisis and provide the necessary support to ensure the safety and well-being of the Haitian people.
1. Why did the U.S. Embassy in Haiti close?
The U.S. Embassy in Haiti closed due to gunfire in the vicinity of the embassy, highlighting the escalating violence in the country.
2. What was the reason behind the protest in Haiti’s capital?
The protest aimed to demand protection from violent gangs that have been terrorizing neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince. Haitians have been greatly affected by the constant gang violence, which exacerbates poverty and insecurity.
3. What is the extent of gang control in Port-au-Prince?
Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, experts estimate that gangs have seized control of up to 80% of the capital city, severely impacting the lives of residents.
4. What has been the impact of kidnappings in Haiti?
Kidnappings have significantly increased, with nearly 300 confirmed cases reported this year alone. Women and children are increasingly targeted for financial or tactical gain.
5. How is the violence affecting Haitians?
The ongoing violence has disrupted daily life, leaving individuals feeling unsafe and trapped in their own homes. It has also deepened the poverty crisis in the country.