US Airlifts Embassy Staff Out of Haiti as Gangs Besiege Political Area

US Airlifts Embassy Staff Out of Haiti as Gangs Besiege Political Area

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The situation in Haiti has escalated as heavily armed gang fighters attempted to seize the political quarter of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. In response to the violence, the United States has reportedly started airlifting embassy staff out of Haiti under the cover of darkness. Here is a summary of the current situation and the actions taken:

Gang Offensive and Siege in Port-au-Prince

Haiti's gangs launched an offensive on February 29th with the aim of toppling the government. They stormed and ransacked police stations, prisons, hospitals, and strategic locations such as the port and airport. The prime minister, Ariel Henry, who was out of the country when the rebellion began, is currently stranded in Puerto Rico.

The gang insurrection intensified as dozens of criminals converged on Champ de Mars, a downtown area of Port-au-Prince that houses government ministries, embassies, consulates, banks, hotels, Haiti's supreme court, and the official presidential residence. Gang members reportedly torched the interior ministry and opened fire on the presidential palace before being pushed back by troops.

US Airlift and Reinforcement

To ensure the safety of embassy staff, the United States conducted an overnight operation to airlift non-essential personnel from the US Embassy in Haiti. The operation was carried out via helicopter at the request of the State Department. US marines were also flown into Port-au-Prince to reinforce embassy security.

Deteriorating Security Situation

Haiti's security situation has progressively deteriorated since Ariel Henry became prime minister and acting president after the assassination of Jovenel Moïse in 2021. Politically connected gangs involved in kidnapping, drug smuggling, and extortion have gained control of more than 80% of Port-au-Prince. The recent gang offensive has further exacerbated the crisis.

International Intervention and Meeting in Jamaica

Daniel Foote, the former US special envoy to Haiti, believes that a large international intervention involving 5,000 to 10,000 police officers led by a major economy with experience in police-capacity building is necessary to restore order. Foote expressed skepticism about the planned UN-backed deployment of 2,000 Kenyan police officers, considering it insufficient.

Caribbean leaders will meet in Kingston, Jamaica, to discuss the crisis and find a political solution. They have invited the United States, France, Canada, the United Nations, and Brazil to the meeting.

News Agencies

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