Americans Flee Haiti on State Dept. Charter Flight

( – Dozens of American citizens were evacuated from Haiti this week, managing to escape the increasingly chaotic Caribbean nation onboard a charter flight sponsored by the State Department. Their departure comes amid widespread gang violence and political upheaval that left streets empty and resources scarce.

On Sunday, March 17th, a State Department charter flight departed from Cap-Haitien on the northern coast of Haiti carrying over 30 U.S. citizens onboard. The plane landed in Miami, Florida, at the Miami International Airport, according to State Department officials, who are “assisting with next steps.”

A spokesperson for the State Department also said that if “commercial options” for Americans continue to be unavailable, and if the environment is secure enough to facilitate intervention, they will continue helping U.S. citizens leave the Caribbean nation.

About 100 miles from Cap-Haitien is Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, where most of the upheaval has been concentrated. The airport in Port-au-Prince has remained under siege by heavily armed and organized street gangs, who have been battling amongst one another and with police. According to UN reports and estimates, about 80% of the city is now controlled by these rival paramilitary groups, and vital resources like food, water, medical care, and fuel have become extremely limited across Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.

As the National Police of Haiti continue to battle the gangs and reclaim control, block by block, they are also dealing with limited resources amid heavy violent backlash, including multiple police stations under siege or turned down this month.

The waves of violence and crime in the Caribbean nation date back to 2021 when Haitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated, but escalated this month while Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry flew out of the country to petition the UN for reinforcements to help fight the rival paramilitary groups and reestablish order. In his absence, one prominent gang leader called for an uprising and for Henry to resign.

Amid international pressure, Henry agreed to step down under the condition that a transitional council be established.

The crisis is also expected to result in a new wave of immigration, which states like Florida are preparing for. Gov. Ron DeSantis has already beefed up coastal defense in preparation for waves of refugees trying to land illegally.

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