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HomeNewsUS Military Fly Into Haiti to Beef Up Security at Embassy

US Military Fly Into Haiti to Beef Up Security at Embassy

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Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
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There is now a lot of heat in the U.S. Embassy in Haiti as the military just sent down more personnel to beef up security and allow nonessential personnel to leave.

According to the U.S. Southern Command, the newly deployed personnel arrived via helicopters. It also made sure to point out that “no Haitians were on board the military aircraft.” 

It seemed aimed at disproving any speculation that senior government officials were leaving as the gang attacks in Haiti worsened. The neighborhood around the embassy in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is mostly under the control of gangs.

“This airlift of personnel into and out of the Embassy is consistent with our standard practice for Embassy security augmentation worldwide. And no Haitians were on board the military aircraft,” the Southcom statement reads. 

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Nonessential personnel can include diplomats’ families. However, the embassy had already ordered departure for nonessential staff and all family members in July. The personnel ferried out of the embassy may have been rotating out to be replaced by new staff.

The statement says the U.S. is completely focused on aiding Haitian police and arranging some kind of U.N.-authorized security deployment. However, those efforts have been unsuccessful so far.

Haiti’s prime minister, Ariel Henry, recently traveled to Kenya. His mission is to push for the U.N.-backed deployment of a police force from there to combat the gangs. However, a court ruled in January that such a deployment would be unconstitutional.

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Henry, facing calls to step down or form a transitional council, remains stranded abroad. He arrived in Puerto Rico on Tuesday because he could not land in the Dominican Republic, which borders Haiti.

The office of Dominican President Luis Abinader said in a statement that “Henry is not welcome in the Dominican Republic for safety reasons.” The country has now closed its land border.

“Given the current situation, the presence of the Haitian prime minister in the Dominican Republic is not considered appropriate,” the statement reads. It also states that “this decision reflects the firm position of the Dominican government to safeguard its national security and stability.”

The statement described the security situation in Haiti as “totally unsustainable.” It also said it “poses a direct threat to the safety and stability of the Dominican Republic.” Experts predict the situation could “deteriorate even further if a peacekeeping force” does not restore order.

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Caribbean leaders will meet in Jamaica today to discuss Haiti’s “dire” situation. They have also invited the United States, France, Canada, the United Nations, and Brazil to the meeting.

Members of the CARICOM regional trade bloc have been trying for months to get political actors in Haiti to form an umbrella transitional unity government.

According to CARICOM on Friday, regional leaders are working hard to unite opposition parties and civil society groups to form a unified government. However, “the stakeholders are not yet where they need to be.”

“We are acutely aware of the urgent need for consensus to be reached,” its statement reads. “We have impressed on the respective parties that time is not on their side in agreeing to the way forward. From our reports, the situation on the ground remains dire and is of serious concern to us.”

In February, Henry said there would be a general election by mid-2025, and the international community has tried to find some foreign armed forces willing to fight gang violence there.

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CARICOM also wants Henry to announce a power-sharing, consensus government in the meantime. However, the prime minister has yet to do so, even as Haitian opposition parties and civil society groups are demanding his resignation. Henry, a neurosurgeon, became Haiti’s prime minister after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in July 2021. 

In Port-au-Prince, meanwhile, police and palace guards joined hands together Saturday to retake some streets in the capital after gangs launched major attacks on at least three police stations.

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The gang attacks have been unrelenting. They have paralyzed the country for more than a week, leaving it with meager supplies of basic goods. Haitian officials extended a state of emergency and nightly curfew on Thursday because gangs continue to attack key state institutions.

However, the average Haitian can not afford to continue with this. Many fled their homes because of the street fighting, and they can’t wait to hear the end.  

The problem for police in securing government buildings is that many Haitians are now seeking refuge within them. “We are the ones who pay taxes, and we need shelter,” said one woman. 

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