US military airlifts nonessential staff from embassy in Haiti, bolsters security amid ongoing gang violence

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The U.S. military has sent forces to Haiti to airlift nonessential staff from the U.S. embassy and help bolster security amid gang violence plaguing the Caribbean nation. 

U.S. Southern Command told Fox News Digital that U.S. Military forces conducted an operation at the request of the State Department to bolster the security of the U.S. Embassy at Port-au-Prince

U.S. Southern Command said non-essential personnel were airlifted, and no Haitians were on board the aircraft. Nonessential personnel can include the families of diplomats, but the embassy had already ordered departure for nonessential staff and all family members in July. 

The neighborhood around the embassy in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is largely controlled by gangs.

Members of the General Security Unit of the National Palace, USGPN, set up a security perimeter around one of the three downtown stations after police fought off an attack by gangs the day before, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, March 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

“Our Embassy remains focused on advancing U.S. government efforts to support the Haitian people, including mobilizing support for the Haitian National Police, expediting the deployment of the United Nations-authorized Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission, and accelerating a peaceful transition of power via free and fair elections,” Southcom said. 

The latest development in Haiti’s already deteriorating situation comes after the country’s embattled prime minister, Ariel Henry, traveled to Kenya to push for the U.N.-backed deployment of a police force from the East African country to fight the gangs. But a Kenyan court ruled in January that such a deployment would be unconstitutional.

Henry, who is facing calls to resign or form a transitional council, remains unable to return home. He arrived in Puerto Rico on Tuesday after he was unable to land in the Dominican Republic, which borders Haiti.

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Dominican President Luis Abinader said Saturday that Henry was not welcome in his country for “safety reasons” and his presence there would not be “considered appropriate.” 

Henry, a neurosurgeon, was appointed as Haiti’s prime minister after the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Henry agreed last month to hold a general election by mid-2025, and the international community has tried to find some foreign armed forces willing to fight gang violence there.

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

Haiti gang

Masked members of “G9 and Family” gang stand guard during a press conference by their leader Barbecue in the Delmas 6 neighborhood of Port-au-Prince in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, March 5, 2024.  (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

Guards from the National Palace accompanied by an armored truck tried to set up a security perimeter around one of the three downtown stations after police fought off an attack by gangs late Friday.

The unrelenting gang attacks have paralyzed the country for more than a week and left it with dwindling supplies of basic goods. Haitian officials extended a state of emergency and nightly curfew on Thursday as gangs continued to attack key state institutions.

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Caribbean leaders have called for an emergency meeting Monday in Jamaica on what they called Haiti’s “dire” situation. They have invited the United States, France, Canada, the United Nations and Brazil to the meeting. It was unclear whether Henry will be in attendance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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