US urges citizens to leave Haiti as violence escalates

World Tuesday 05/March/2024 13:36 PM
By: DW
US urges citizens to leave Haiti as violence escalates

Washington: The United States called for its citizens to leave Haiti "as soon as possible" after violence escalated over the weekend in the wake of a deadly attack on a prison, prompting a state of emergency in the country.

The US, which is home to over a million Haitians, said its embassy would be providing limited operations on Monday while Canada said it would temporarily close its embassy.

"We're monitoring Haiti's rapidly deteriorating security situation with great concern," US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in a call.

The UN also commented on the ongoing violence, calling for "urgent action particularly in providing financial support for the multinational security support mission" that is backed by the UN."

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is alarmed "by the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Port-au-Prince," spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Haiti's government declared a state of emergency on Sunday, following several days of violence in the capital culminating in an attack on the country's main prison which left most of its inmates at large.

Prison gates were open on Sunday, with no security personnel in sight. Many families of prisoners held at the facility rushed there to check on loved ones.

The attacks started while Prime Minister Ariel Henry was in Kenya to lobby for UN-backed police deployment in his country.

The government said a curfew would be enforced from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, through Wednesday, in the Ouest region, which includes the capital Port-au-Prince.

Security forces had "received orders to use all legal means at their disposal to enforce the curfew and detain those who violate it," the government said.

Haiti's Economy Minister Patrick Michel Boisvert signed the government statement, deputising for Prime Minister Henry.

Gang leader Jimmy Cherizier, a former police officer, has claimed responsibility for the recent attacks that he says aim to oust the prime minister.