Nearly 1,000 Americans in Haiti plea for help, State Dept. says, as gangs unleash new attacks

The State Department revealed Monday that nearly 1,000 Americans have filled out a ‘crisis intake form’ seeking assistance in Haiti – a country it is now calling ‘one of the most dire humanitarian situations in the world.’ 

State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel made the remark hours after dozens of Americans landed in Miami on a U.S. government-chartered evacuation flight from Haiti, where reports are emerging of gangs killing at least 12 people early this morning in a suburb of Port-au-Prince following the looting of homes in two upscale neighborhoods in the Caribbean country’s capital. 

‘It is not hyperbole to say that this is one of the most dire humanitarian situations in the world,’ Patel said. ‘Gang violence continues to make the security situation in Haiti untenable, and it is a region that demands our attention.’ 

‘This is a fluid situation and the number of individuals who have reached out to us through the crisis intake form is approaching a thousand,’ he added, referring to the form on the State Department’s website.

‘And we’re continuing to monitor the situation closely and evaluate the demand of U.S. citizens, evaluate the overall security situation, evaluate what is feasible when it comes to commercial transportation options, what is feasible for other transportation solutions,’ Patel also said, emphasizing that ‘we have no higher priority than the safety and security of American citizens.’ 

The State Department previously has said it is aware of several hundred U.S. citizens being stuck in Haiti. 

Patel said people fill out the form requesting assistance for ‘a variety of reasons.’ 

‘Many, we assume, are in a circumstance where they are ready to fully depart the country…. Others may be more interested in just getting status updates, getting information on what avenues might be available to them,’ he continued. ‘It is hard to paint this entire population with a single stroke.’ 

In Port-au-Prince this morning, gunmen looted homes in the communities of Laboule and Thomassin before sunrise, forcing residents to flee as some called radio stations pleading for police, according to the Associated Press. 

The news agency reported that one of their photographers saw the bodies of at least 12 men strewn on the streets of nearby Pétionville, which later were collected by an ambulance. 

‘Abuse! This is abuse!’ one Haitian man reportedly cried out as he raised his arms and stood near one of the victims. ‘People of Haiti! Wake up!’  

‘We woke up this morning to find bodies in the street in our community of Pétionville,’ Douce Titi, who works at the mayor’s office, also told the AP.

The most recent attacks have raised concerns that gang violence will not cease despite Prime Minister Ariel Henry announcing nearly a week ago that he would resign once a transitional presidential council is created, a move that gangs had been demanding. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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