US Sends Forces to Haiti to Evacuate Personnel

Military will protect embassy in Port-au-Prince
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 10, 2024 4:35 PM CDT
US Sends Forces to Haiti to Evacuate Personnel
A street alongside the US Embassy compound is devoid of traffic Sunday in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.   (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

The US military said Sunday that it had flown in forces to beef up security at the embassy in Haiti and allow nonessential personnel to leave. The aircraft flew to the embassy compound, the US Southern Command said, meaning that the effort involved helicopters. It said "no Haitians were on board the military aircraft." That seemed aimed at quashing any speculation that senior government officials might be leaving as the gang attacks in Haiti worsen, the AP reports. The neighborhood around the embassy in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is largely controlled by gangs.

"This airlift of personnel into and out of the Embassy is consistent with our standard practice for Embassy security augmentation worldwide," the Southcom statement said. Nonessential personnel can include the families of diplomats, but the embassy had already ordered the departure of nonessential staff and all family members in July. The personnel ferried out of the embassy may have simply been rotating out, to be refreshed by new staff. The statement Sunday said that the US remains focused on aiding Haitian police and arranging some kind of UN-authorized security deployment. Those efforts have been unsuccessful so far, per the AP.

Haiti's embattled prime minister, Ariel Henry, traveled recently to Kenya to push for the UN-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. Caribbean leaders have called for an emergency meeting Monday in Jamaica on what they called Haiti's "dire" situation. They have invited officials from the US, France, Canada, the UN, and Brazil to the meeting. In Port-au-Prince on Saturday, police and palace guards worked to retake some streets in the capital after gangs launched major attacks on at least three police stations.

(More US military stories.)

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