A recent surge in violence and the abduction of an American couple in Haiti last month is causing concern for American government officials. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a travel warning for American citizens to avoid travel to the country.

“While we understand that there are strong ties between Haiti and South Florida, before traveling there one should consider the trauma and financial costs of being kidnapped not only to themselves but to their family and friends as well,” FBI Supervisory Special Agent Liz Santamaria said this week, as reported by the Miami Herald.

The situation in Haiti has reached a critical point as violence and lawlessness continue to escalate. The FBI’s Miami field office has reported a 300% increase in kidnappings for the first three months of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022.

Items on fire in the street in Haiti
Photo Credit: Dr. Crystal Felima

Crisis In Haiti Causes Concern Globally

Violence and unrest in Haiti have caused great concern among foreign governments and humanitarian organizations. The United Nations has already raised the alarm about the deteriorating situation in Haiti. The United States has evacuated all non-essential personnel from its embassy in Port-au-Prince. The FBI’s travel warning is just another indication of how dangerous the situation in Haiti has become.

“The people of Haiti continue to suffer one of the worst human rights crises in decades and a major humanitarian emergency,” United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said in a recent report to the U.N. Security Council. “With the high number of fatalities and increasing areas under the control of armed gangs, insecurity in the capital has reached levels comparable to countries in armed conflict.”

In March, an American couple was kidnapped while visiting Haiti to see their sick relatives and attend a local festival. The couple was held by a gang for ransom and was finally released a month later. The exact conditions of their release have not been made public. This incident is a sobering reminder of the dangers facing foreigners in Haiti.

Police custody also failed to protect 13 suspected gang members in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, who were pulled from a minibus during a traffic stop last week, according to the Miami Herald. The individuals were beaten to death by a mob using gasoline-soaked tires.

The latest incident highlights the severe public outrage over the increasingly lawless and violent situation in the capital. Criminal gangs have taken control over an estimated 60% of Port-au-Prince since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.

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