The U.S. State Department is urging U.S. citizens still in Haiti to depart immediately and warning others not to travel to the beleaguered nation.
A security alert issued Nov. 10 said the warning is based on the current security situation and infrastructure challenges Haiti is facing.
“Widespread fuel shortages may limit essential services in an emergency, including access to banks, money transfers, urgent medical care, internet and telecommunications, and public and private transportation options,” the warning states. “The U.S. Embassy is unlikely to be able to assist U.S. citizens in Haiti with departure if commercial options become unavailable. Seats on commercial flights currently remain available.”
The security situation in Haiti has deteriorated in recent months following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse; a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Aug. 14, killing thousands and causing extensive damage to buildings; and heavy rainfall Aug. 16 and 17 from Tropical Storm Grace that caused flash flooding and landslides.
Kidnappings have become common in Haiti, with gangs demanding ransoms for their captives.
In the largest kidnapping, a group of 17 U.S.-based missionaries and their children were taken hostage Oct. 16, along with their Haitian driver, by the 400 Mawozo gang. The group is still being held.
‘Stand with us in prayer’
In an update issued yesterday (Nov. 11), the 27th day since the kidnapping, Christian Aid Ministries shared a message from a “close family member of the hostages.”
The statement reads,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Jeremiah 55:8-9).
God is working out a plan that is bigger than we can comprehend. As we wait to see what God is going to do in the lives of the hostages and their captors, we already see what God is doing in the hearts and lives of people around the world. Thank you to all of you who have written to share your testimony, a prayer, or a word of encouragement with us as family members.
We rejoice in the many prayers that are being offered on the behalf of the Haitian people as well as for the hostages and their captors. God delights in the prayers of His people and invites us to call upon Him in the day of trouble.
Thank you for continuing to stand with us in prayer.
The Miami Herald reported earlier this week that banks and other businesses in Haiti were reducing hours, and the U.N. encouraged its employees to stock up on emergency supplies of food, water and other essential items.
“The U.N. can confirm that a message was sent to all U.N. staff on Oct. 28 strongly advising them, due to the prevailing security and fuel situation, to stock at least 14 days of emergency supplies of water, food and necessities,” Daniel Dickinson, a representative for the U.N.’s political office in Port-au-Prince, told the Miami Herald. “This advice is in line with the U.N.’s security and contingency planning.”
‘We have to do something’
In an interview with The Associated Press this week, the Rev. Jean-Nicaisse Milien shared the story of his kidnapping by the 400 Mawozo gang in April.
The pastor was taken captive while traveling to a church service. Milien said he and nine other fellow hostages were fed only rice and bread and slept on a dirt floor for days. Milien and his fellow hostages were eventually released over the course of 20 days. He acknowledged ransoms were paid but did not disclose the details.
Milien said his advice to the families of those who remain captive is to never lose hope. He said he joins others in praying for their release. He also prays the situation is his country will improve.
“We have to do something,” he said. “The government has to do something because we cannot remain in this situation.”