US military airlifts some embassy personnel from Haiti, bolsters security | Armed Groups News

The US operation comes amid gang violence that threatens to bring down the government and has led thousands to flee their homes.

The US military says it has carried out an operation in Haiti to airlift non-essential embassy personnel from the Caribbean country amid a state of emergency.

It also brought in additional personnel to boost security at the compound in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince.

“This airlift of personnel into and out of the embassy is consistent with our standard practice for embassy security augmentation worldwide, and no Haitians were on board the military aircraft,” the US military’s Southern Command said in a statement on Sunday.

The US embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti [File: Matias Delacroix/AP Photo]

Haiti is spiralling deeper into gang violence, which threatens to bring down the government and has led thousands to flee their homes.

The escalation began a week ago after Haiti’s embattled Prime Minister Ariel Henry agreed to hold general elections in mid-2025 while attending a meeting of Caribbean leaders in Guyana.

Henry has faced a crisis of legitimacy since he took up his post less than two weeks after the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

In the past week, Henry flew from Guyana to Kenya – and gangs in Haiti set fire to police stations, attacked the main international airport, which remains closed, and raided the country’s two largest prisons, where they freed more than 4,000 inmates.

During that time, Henry was in Nairobi, seeking a deal for the long-delayed United Nations-backed mission to help tackle gang violence.

Kenya announced last year that it would lead the force, but months of domestic legal wrangling have effectively put the mission on hold.

Henry is currently in Puerto Rico, where he was forced to land after armed groups laid siege to the airport and the neighbouring Dominican Republic barred him from entering after officials there closed the country’s airspace to flights to and from Haiti.

Earlier in the week, the head of the powerful G9 Haitian gang alliance, Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, warned, “If Ariel Henry doesn’t resign, if the international community continues to support him, we’ll be heading straight for a civil war that will lead to genocide.”

Jimmy Chérizier holds a press conference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, March 5, 2024 [Odelyn Joseph/AP Photo]

On Saturday, the US State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Kenyan President William Ruto about the Haiti crisis.

The two men underscored their commitment to a multinational security mission to restore order.

The US Southern Command’s statement said Washington remained committed to those goals.

“Our embassy remains focused on advancing US 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,” it said.

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