U.S., Canada urge citizens to leave Haiti amid deepening turmoil
The U.S. government is urging U.S. citizens to leave Haiti because of the country’s deepening insecurity and a severe lack of fuel that has affected hospitals, schools and banks. Gas stations remained closed on Thursday.
The rare warning from the U.S. State Department comes as Haiti’s government and police are struggling to control gangs that have blocked fuel distribution terminals for several weeks.
« Widespread fuel shortages may limit essential services in an emergency, including access to banks, money transfers, urgent medical care, internet and telecommunications, and public and private transportation options, » the State Department warned on Wednesday. « The U.S. Embassy is unlikely to be able to assist U.S. citizens in Haiti with departure if commercial options become unavailable. »
It’s unclear how many U.S. citizens currently live in Haiti. A State Department official told The Associated Press that it does not provide those statistics and U.S. citizens are not required to register their travel to a foreign country.
Canada also issued a similar warning on Wednesday: « If you’re in Haiti and your presence isn’t essential, consider leaving if you can do so safely. »
The warnings come as U.S. and Haitian authorities are trying to secure the safe release of 17 members of a missionary group from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries who were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang on Oct. 16. There are five children in the group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. Their Haitian driver also was abducted.
« We request continued prayer for the kidnappers, that God would soften their hearts, » the organization said in a statement on Wednesday. « As you pray, remember the millions of Haitians who are suffering through a time of serious upheaval and unrest. »
On Tuesday, top Haitian government officials acknowledged the widespread lack of fuel during a news conference and said they were working to resolve the situation, although they provided no details.
Source: Associated Press – CTV News
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