Safety and Security
While hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Haiti every year, the Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consider carefully all travel to Haiti. Travel fully supported by organizations with solid infrastructure, evacuation options, and medical support systems in place is recommended.
If you intend to work for an organization involved in humanitarian efforts in Haiti, be aware that living conditions are difficult. You should confirm that the organization has the capability to provide transportation and shelter for its paid and volunteer workers. All relief organizations should have a security plan in place for their personnel. Please note that space in hotels is extremely limited.
While most crime victims are residents of Haiti, temporary visitors share the risk of falling victim. There remains a persistent danger of violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, rape, and kidnapping. While the size of the Haitian National Police (HNP) force has been growing and its capabilities improving, its ability to maintain citizen security is limited. The presence of MINUSTAH peacekeeping troops and UN-formed police units remain critical to maintaining an adequate level of security throughout the country. The limited capability of local law enforcement to respond to and investigate crimes further compounds the security threat to U.S. citizens. In particular, there have been cases in which travelers arriving in Port-au-Prince on flights from the United States were attacked and robbed after exiting the airport by car (two such cases involving U.S. citizens have been reported in the first six months of 2013). Police authorities believe criminals may be targeting travelers arriving on flights from the United States, following them, and attacking once they are out of the area. Use extra caution in arranging transportation from the airport. Most kidnappings are financial crimes of opportunity, and kidnappers make no distinctions of nationality, race, gender, or age. Some kidnap victims have been killed, shot, sexually assaulted, or physically abused.
While MINUSTAH remains fully deployed and is assisting the Government of Haiti in providing security, travel within Port-au-Prince can be hazardous. U.S. embassy personnel are under an embassy-imposed curfew of 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and must remain in their homes or in U.S. government facilities during the curfew. Some areas are off-limits to Embassy staff after dark, including downtown Port-au-Prince, Cite Soleil, Martissant, Carrefour, Croix Des Bouquets, among other areas. The embassy restricts travel by its staff to some areas outside of Port-au-Prince because of the prevailing road, weather, or security conditions. This may constrain the embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside Port-au-Prince. Demonstrations, which are common occurrences in Haiti and can become violent, may occasionally limit embassy operations to emergency services, even within Port-au-Prince.
We recommend that you avoid all large gatherings, as crowd behavior can be unpredictable. Visitors encountering roadblocks, demonstrations, or large crowds should remain calm and depart the area quickly and avoid confrontation. Assistance from Haitian authorities is often unavailable. Be particularly cautious on days when political activities are planned. Take common-sense precautions and avoid any event where crowds may congregate.