Near the Haiti airport AFP

The first charter flight carrying over 30 U.S. citizens fleeing from widespread violence and chaos in Haiti landed on Sunday in Miami, The Associated Press reported.

The flight, handled by the U.S. government, departed from the northern city of Cap-Haïtien, as the country's main airport, located in capital Port-au-Prince, remains closed following an armed attack aimed at preventing Prime Minister Ariel Henry from returning.

U.S. authorities said they couldn't provide ground transportation to Cap-Haïtien and that people should only head there if they were confident in their ability to do so safely.

The State Department announced it would offer a limited amount of such flights from American citizens. The country's embassy in Haiti had already urged all citizens to leave "as soon as possible" earlier this month.

"We encourage U.S. citizens still in Haiti who seek to depart to contact the Department of State using the crisis intake form on our website if they have not already done so," the agency said in a new statement.

The U.S. has already evacuated all non-essential staff from its embassy and flew in additional forces to beef up security in its compound, located in a neighborhood that has largely fallen into gang control.

Other countries such as Germany have taken similar measures, while the European Union also said it had temporarily closed its offices and reduced its presence in the country.

Many of those who leave still have ties with the country and have shown dismay about its future, as well as that of those who remain. People in Miami, where there is a large diaspora that has been growing since the 1970s and 1980s, when thousands migrated to the U.S. seeking to escape economic crises and military dictatorships, have been affected by the lawlessness that now dominates Haiti.

Residents flee their homes as gang violence escalates in Port-au-Prince,
Residents flee their homes as gang violence escalates in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 9, 2024. Clarens Siffroy/AFP

A NBC News report highlighted the case of a family member of Haitian migrant Steeve Pierre, who was kidnapped for ransom by one of the criminal groups who already control 80% of the country's capital.

Pierre's cousin, Antoine, was taken while delivering goods in a truck, and is in the middle of a negotiation for his life, as his family can't afford the half a million dollars the gang wants for his release.

The outlet recounted that the family of another Haitian migrant, Anderson Charles, has gone into hiding in the countryside out of fear for their lives. While away, a gang broke in to steal possessions, but stayed after realizing the family had relatives in the U.S. so they could kidnap them for ransom. They were alerted by neighbors and have gone into hiding while the situation continues.

The current situation in the country is one of uncertainty. It seemed to make progress last week after Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced he would step down once a transitional council was formed. However, disagreements over the nature and composition of the council have ensued, making next steps unclear.

In the meantime, a Unicef container holding aid was looted on Saturday, according to the UN agency. Over 260 of its containers are under gang control in the port, Unicef added. "Depriving children from sanitary supplies amid a sanitary system collapse is a violation of their rights," said Unicef representative in Haiti Bruno Maes.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.