Roadblocks, gunfire, and looting have been reported in the capital Port-au-Prince as part of nationwide opposition protests on Thursday, February 7. A large protest march is reportedly moving through the capital as of Thursday afternoon (local time), with reports of protesters attacking and looting businesses amid a heightened security presence. Security forces clashed with demonstrators at Place Saint-Pierre after protesters descended on the Swiss Embassy and attempted to access private residences in the area. Protesters also reportedly threw rocks at the Canadian Embassy in Delmas 75 in Port-au-Prince; police responded by firing tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.
Roadblocks and unrest were also reported in several cities, including Mirebalais (Centre department), Jacmel (Sud-Est department), Petit Goave (Ouest department), Cavaillon (Sud department), Les Cayes (Sud department), Miragoâne (Nippes department), Cap-Haïtien (Nord department), Gonaives (Artibonite department), Saint-Marc (Artibonite department), Marchand Dessalines (Artibonite department), and Petite Rivière de l'Artibonite (Artibonite Department).
Additional protests and clashes between demonstrators and security forces are to be expected nationwide, particularly in Port-au-Prince, in the coming hours. Further demonstrations in the coming days cannot be ruled out. A heightened security presence and traffic disruptions are anticipated near protest sites.
Numerous demonstrations have been staged in recent months to call for greater government transparency after several public officials, including President Jovenel Moïse, were implicated in a scandal related to the alleged misuse of PetroCaribe funds. Violent protests took place in late 2018, with gunfire, roadblocks, and mob violence reported across the country, including in Cap-Haïtien, Pétion-Ville, Lalue, Croix-des-Bouquets, Les Cayes, and Chalon. At least ten people were killed.
Individuals in Haiti are advised to keep abreast of the situation, strictly avoid all protests and associated roadblocks due to the likelihood of violence, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments (e.g. travel restrictions). Be prepared to shelter in place in the event of prolonged civil unrest (e.g. stockpile supplies of preserved foods and fresh water).
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