BREAKING NEWS: US EVACUATES HAITI EMBASSY STAFF AMID GANG VIOLENCE

BREAKING NEWS: US EVACUATES HAITI EMBASSY STAFF AMID GANG VIOLENCE

The U.S. has initiated the evacuation of non-essential personnel from its embassy in Haiti amidst escalating gang-related turmoil within the nation.

In response to the heightened threat level, American security measures at their Port-au-Prince embassy have been intensified.

This move comes in the wake of recent aggressive actions by gangs targeting the airport, law enforcement facilities, and correctional institutions this week, as part of their campaign to demand the resignation of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

In light of these developments, a three-day emergency declaration has been prolonged for an additional month.

Due to the surge in gang activity in the vicinity of U.S. embassy premises and near the airport, the State Department has decided to facilitate the departure of more embassy staff," according to a statement published on social media by the embassy.

Despite these precautions, the embassy will continue its operations.

Local residents, speaking to the AFP news agency, noted the operation seemed to be executed via helicopter during the early hours, marked by the distinct sound of aircraft blades.

The situation in Haiti has notably worsened.

Following acts of sabotage and destruction, the country's primary port announced a halt in its operations on Thursday.

Gang violence in the beleaguered city has intensified, particularly after Prime Minister Henry departed for a regional conference last week.

Attempting to return on Tuesday, Henry was diverted to Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, due to the closure of Port-au-Prince's international airport by military forces thwarting gunmen's efforts to overtake it.

Additionally, the Dominican Republic's civil aviation authorities denied entry to Henry's plane, citing a lack of the required flight itinerary.

Since his trip to Kenya, where he and President William Ruto discussed a potential agreement for Kenya to lead a multi-national force to assist in stabilizing Haiti, Prime Minister Henry has remained silent publicly.

The agreement they reached would allow for the deployment of 2,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti, although this move faces legal challenges from a Kenyan opposition figure.

In a recent development, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Ruto of Kenya discussed the Haitian crisis, reaffirming their dedication to a multi-national security mission aimed at restoring peace in Haiti.

During the prime minister's absence, gangs in Port-au-Prince have launched a spate of coordinated assaults.

Their strategic targets included the airport, to block Henry's return, and two correctional facilities, from which they liberated thousands of inmates.

The violence has resulted in the deaths of at least six law enforcement officers, the devastation of the National Police Academy, and the abandonment of numerous prisoners' bodies in the streets post the national penitentiary raid.

Amidst this chaos, Haiti's humanitarian situation has significantly deteriorated.

The gangs' objectives appear focused solely on Prime Minister Henry's ouster.

Jimmy "Barbecue" Chérizier, an ex-police officer turned gang leader of the G9 alliance, has warned of a potential "civil war" leading to "genocide" if Henry does not resign.

The turmoil has displaced over 362,000 Haitians, with children constituting more than half of this figure, as reported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

"Haitians are struggling to lead normal lives, besieged by fear, with the ongoing crisis exacerbating their trauma," Philippe Branchat, the IOM's representative in Haiti, remarked.

He highlighted the dire situation in the capital, effectively under siege and encircled by armed factions.

According to Medecins Sans Frontieres, the violence in Port-au-Prince's Cite Soleil neighborhood alone has claimed at least 2,300 lives in 2023, affecting 9% of the city's inhabitants.

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