US diplomatic authorities ordered the departure of all of its non-emergency personnel and their family members on Friday, February 15, due to widespread and violent unrest ongoing throughout the island, notably in the capital Port-au-Prince. Violent demonstrations calling for the indictment and resignation of President Jovenel Moïse are expected to continue in Port-au-Prince and other cities in the coming hours and days. While the Toussaint Louverture International Airport (PAP)in the capital is still operating as of February 15, flight disruptions are possible at PAP if demonstrators impede access to the airport.
President Moïse continues to ignore calls for his resignation amid pressure from opposition and business leaders. A spokesperson for the President denied rumors of Moïse stepping aside, and stated any transfer of power will be done during the upcoming presidential election. Moïse, meanwhile, recalled his ambassadors to the US, UN, France, and Mexico on February 12-13.
Widespread business disruptions continue nationwide as demonstrators have set fire to and looted several shops in recent days. Public transportation has also been halted in the capital. Roadblocks are also in place in several parts of the city. Security forces continue to deploy reinforcements to protect banks, government offices, court buildings, and utility installations. Further demonstrations and significant transportation disruptions are expected to continue in Port-au-Prince and throughout the country over the coming days. Clashes between security forces and protesters are likely.
Violent demonstrations, known as "Operation lock down Haiti," have been taking place on a daily basis since February 7, with demonstrators erecting roadblocks, burning tires, and throwing rocks at security forces nationwide.
At least eight people have been killed in the demonstrations, with dozens of others suffering injuries. On February 9, a United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) armored personnel carrier accidentally collided with a collective taxi, killing four people in the Canapé Vert area of Port-au-Prince and further exacerbating social unrest.
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.
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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