Haiti, May 26, 2017 – Port-au-Price – A United States Government Department has issued a warning to persons wishing to visit Haiti. The travel warning cautions U.S citizens to consider the risks when traveling to Haiti, “due to its current security environment and lack of adequate medical facilities and response, especially in the areas of Petionville and the storm-damaged southern peninsula departments of Grand Anse and Sud.”
The U.S warning went on to caution citizens, “Do not share specific travel plans with strangers. Be aware that newly arrived travelers are targeted. Arrange to have your host or organization meet you at the airport upon arrival or pre-arranged airport to hotel transfers. Be cautious when visiting banks and ATMs, which are often targeted by criminals. Fewer incidents of crime are reported outside of Port-au-Prince, but Haitian authorities’ ability to respond to emergencies is limited and in some areas non-existent.”
However, the warning has been receiving a lot backlash, with many calling it both “alarming” and “hypocritical” since Homeland Security also made an announcement calling for Haitian nationals currently in the U.S to return to Haiti.
On Monday 22nd May 2017, Secretary of the U.S department of Homeland Security, John Kelly, announced a deadline for the temporary protection for Haitian nationals to return home. It is no secret that Haiti is still recovering from the extensive damages caused by the 2010 earthquake which left the country to suffer deplorable conditions. As a result, the United States government offered Temporary Protected Status to Haitian nationals. This is a type of immigration benefit for persons unable to return to their home countries due to war, national disasters or other extraordinary conditions. This has now raised the question, if the country is unsafe for U.S citizens to visit, then shouldn’t it also be unsafe for anyone else, including its own citizens, to return?
An American journalist who worked in Haiti during the 2010 earthquake and has done extensive research based on the disaster and its effects on the Caribbean island, Johnathan Katz said, “on the one hand, DHS thinks Haiti is in good condition for 58,000 people to move there today and restart their lives under incredibly difficult circumstances, whereas the State Department doesn’t even think its own personnel should go to restaurants at night in the neighborhoods they live in because it’s so horribly dangerous.”
Though there may be a decrease in Haiti’s tourism as a result of this new travel warning, the deadline for temporary protection for Haitian nationals currently residing in the U.S would be January 22, 2018.
Story By: Kay-Marie Fletcher