US Evacuates Embassy Staff in Haiti

( – Haiti’s recent history has been characterized by conflict and instability, starting with the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Earlier this year, rampant gang violence erupted throughout Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital.

The violent civil power struggle peaked during the second week of March, leading to the closure of businesses and schools throughout the Caribbean nation. Gang members shut down both of the country’s international airports, including Port-au-Prince’s Aeroport International Toussaint Louverture, locking out acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

On March 12, Henry issued a statement from Puerto Rico accouncing his decision to cede to the rebels’ demands and step down once a transitional presidential council is installed. Henry has served as both the acting prime minister and president since Moïse’s assassination but has never been sworn into either position.

The United States recently evacuated Embassy staff from its Port-au-Prince mission.

US Evacuating Non-Essential Personnel

On March 11, the Florida-based United States Southern Command issued a press release announcing the launch of a military operation “to augment the security” of US Embassy staff members in Port-au-Prince. The statement advised that American troops had been deployed to Haiti’s capital to provide support for the evacuation of non-essential personnel and enable the diplomatic mission to continue its operations.

The notice stated that the airlift of embassy personnel remained consistent with “standard practices” for “security augmentation” efforts for personnel working at US diplomatic missions worldwide. The statement confirmed that no Haitian nationals were boarded onto American military aircraft during the operation.

The Southern Command explained that the US Embassy remained “focused on advancing” American efforts to stabilize the ongoing crisis. According to the statement, the remaining officials are working to achieve four main goals.

  1. Accelerate a peaceful transition of power in Haiti “via free and fair elections”
  2. Expedite the deployment of the United Nations-led Multinational Security Support mission
  3. Mobilize support for Haiti’s national police (Police Nationale d’Haiti)
  4. Support ongoing humanitarian efforts to provide relief to the Haitian people

Later that day, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the Defense Department was “doubling its approved support” for the UN’s mission from $100 million to $200 million. He also confirmed that the US was providing an additional $33 million to support humanitarian efforts to provide “health and food security” for Haitians.

Blinken stressed that it remained up to the Haitian people to “determine their own future” without foreign interference. However, he advised that the United States and its global partners could help by restoring a “foundation of security” for residents and alleviating the “tremendous suffering of innocent [civilians].”

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