Haiti is a beautiful country that boasts miles of white sandy beaches and a host of culturally and historically rich attractions.
In fact the beaches in Haiti are so beautiful that Royal Caribbean continues to sail to Labadee: A private dock on Haiti’s northern coast where visitors can sunbathe on the pristine sands and snorkel to coral reefs, all against the backdrop of jungle-covered hilltops.
However, Haiti is also considered to be a very dangerous country with incredibly high levels of crime, kidnapping risk, and civil unrest. The levels of crime and gang violence continue to increase in the country.
To reflect just how dangerous they perceive Haiti to be, the U.S Government has reissued its ‘Level 4 Do Not Travel’ warning to the country.
Here’s what you need to know:
Why Has The Advisory Been Reissued?
The U.S. Government has reissued a Level 4 ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory to reflect that they have ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and their eligible family members.
The advisory also states that U.S. citizens in Haiti should leave Haiti as soon as possible using commercial or other privately available transport options. This decision has been reached due to the current security situation and infrastructure challenges in Haiti.
Citizens in Haiti wishing to leave Port-au-Prince right now are advised to “monitor local news and only do so when considered safe.”
Why Is Haiti Considered Dangerous?
There are many reasons why the U.S. government considers Haiti to be dangerous and has issued the Level 4 Do Not Travel advisory. These include:
- Gang violence. This has always been a real issue in Haiti but this has now increased to extreme levels. Since April the mob killings of presumed criminals have also been on the rise.
- Kidnapping is also widespread in the country, and U.S. citizens are regularly targeted. Kidnappers in Haiti used sophisticated techniques meaning that even if you are traveling in a convoy or only traveling during daylight hours, you are still at risk.
U.S. citizens have been physically harmed during kidnappings in the country and many kidnapping cases involve negotiations for high ransoms. Families are often expected to pay thousands of dollars for the return of their family members.
- Violent crime is commonplace. This includes armed robbery and carjackings involving the use of firearms. Travelers are often followed and either robbed or violently attacked. This includes places that they may perceive to be safe, such as close to Port-au-Prince airport.
- Protests, demonstrations, and tire burning in protest against the government are commonplace. These are unpredictable and can often turn violent. Local police lack the resources to respond to criminal incidences, meaning that U.S. citizens that are victims of crime in Haiti will have limited support.
It’s important to note that the U.S. government is very limited in the support that it can provide to U.S. citizens who need emergency assistance in Haiti. Your only assistance will be from the limited resources of the local authorities.
Staying Safe In Haiti
Despite this government warning, you may decide that you still wish to visit Haiti. While the security situation in the country is volatile, many tourists still travel to Haiti to explore the beaches, the art, the unique voodoo ceremonies, and the music-filled streets.
In their advisory, the U.S. government states that citizens who decide to travel to Haiti should avoid demonstrations and crowds and never attempt to drive through roadblocks.
Because the streets around Port-au-Prince airport can be dangerous, travelers should arrange airport transfers in advance or have their host meet them at the airport.
Be careful about sharing your personal information with anyone, and if you feel like you might be being followed, then you should drive or walk to the nearest police station immediately.
Walking in public can be very risky, so aim to travel by car are much as possible and keep your windows and doors locked when driving in Haiti.
In short, if you are traveling in Haiti, it is important to be cautious and alert at all times. And ensure that you have private travel insurance and medical evacuation insurance in place before you travel so that you are prepared for every eventuality.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com