US Military Begins Embassy Evacuation

( – On Sunday, March 10, the United States military evacuated non-essential personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, responding to a surge in gang violence that has crippled Haiti. This move follows the Haitian Prime Minister’s flight to Puerto Rico amidst growing international concern.

The U.S. Southern Command confirmed conducting an overnight airlift to secure the departure of non-essential embassy staff. They emphasized this aligns with their standard protocol for enhancing security at embassies worldwide. The embassy remains open, with essential staff continuing their critical diplomatic duties.

State Department authorization prompted the evacuation due to a recent rise in gang activity, particularly near the embassy and airport. In addition, the U.S. has deployed an anti-terrorism Marine unit to protect the embassy, which remains open despite the evacuations.

The U.S. isn’t alone in its worries. Due to the volatile security situation, Germany’s ambassador and other European Union representatives have also relocated to the Dominican Republic.

Haiti’s struggles are long-standing. Decades of political instability have created a breeding ground for powerful criminal organizations. Last year, to quell the violence, the Biden administration pledged over $165 million to bolster the Haitian National Police. Additionally, the U.N. Security Council authorized a multinational security force in October 2023, with Kenya expected to lead the mission.

However, this initiative seems to have stalled. Prime Minister Henry’s visit to Kenya to advocate for the force’s deployment coincided with a surge in gang violence. Heavily armed groups attacked government buildings, including an attempt to seize control of Port-au-Prince’s airport. This violence forced businesses and schools to close, displacing an estimated 15,000 residents. Attacks on prisons also led to a mass escape.

Faced with this chaos, Haitian authorities have implemented a nighttime curfew and declared a state of emergency. The international community is taking action. On Monday, March 11, a high-level emergency meeting was held in Jamaica to address Haiti’s “dire” situation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken participated in these urgent discussions alongside representatives from Brazil, Canada, France, and the U.N.

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