FBI warns Americans against visiting Haiti amid crime wave
Kidnappings in Haiti have increased by 300% during the first three months of this year compared to the previous period last year
April 27, 2023 7:57am
Updated: April 27, 2023 7:57am
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning Americans against traveling to Haiti after a wave of crime has led to increased violence and kidnappings.
"While we understand that there are strong ties between Haiti and South Florida, before traveling there one should consider the trauma and financial costs of being kidnapped not only to themselves but to their family and friends as well," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Liz Santamaria said this week, the Miami Herald reported.
Kidnappings in Haiti have increased by 300% during the first three months of this year compared to the previous period last year, according to the FBI’s Miami field office.
"The people of Haiti continue to suffer one of the worst human rights crises in decades and a major humanitarian emergency," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in a recent report to the U.N. Security Council.
"With the high number of fatalities and increasing areas under the control of armed gangs, insecurity in the capital has reached levels comparable to countries in armed conflict," he added.
The U.S. State Department also issued a travel advisory for Haiti due to “kidnapping, crime, and civil unrest.”
Gang violence in Haiti has increased since President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in 2021, leaving behind a power vacuum. Since then, gangs have sought to extend their territory, leaving thousands of residents caught in the middle of violent fights.
As a result, hundreds of Haitians have been left dead and thousands of others displaced. In recent weeks, the violence has escalated to routine fights between gangs and Haiti’s security officers.
Last month, a couple from Florida who was visiting Haiti to visit relatives and attend a festival were kidnapped by local gangs after they were ordered off of a bus. Jean Dickens Toussaint and his wife, Abigail, were released a month later after the kidnappers demanded more than $200,000 per person in ransom. Details of their release have not yet been revealed.
Amid the rise of violence, angry residents of Port-au-Prince on Monday set 13 suspected gang members on fire by placing them in gasoline-soaked tires, leading to their deaths. Six more bodies of suspected gang members were found in a nearby neighborhood also on Monday.