February 20, 2004 - Local 10: The U.S. Embassy has further reduced its presence in Haiti with the withdrawal of Peace Corps personnel

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Haiti: Special Report: February, 2004: Haiti Peace Corps Information Center: February 20, 2004 - Local 10: The U.S. Embassy has further reduced its presence in Haiti with the withdrawal of Peace Corps personnel

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The U.S. Embassy has further reduced its presence in Haiti with the withdrawal of Peace Corps personnel

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Travel Warning Issued For Haiti*

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Travel Warning Issued For Haiti
U.S. Department Of State Issues Warning

POSTED: 3:12 pm EST February 19, 2004
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning for Haiti Thursday afternoon due to the unrest and violence on the island.

The release says:

"This travel warning is being issued to inform American citizens that, due to the continued unrest and a steady deterioration of the security situation in Haiti, including violent confrontations between pro- and anti-government forces, the U.S. Embassy has further reduced its presence in Haiti with the withdrawal of Peace Corps personnel. The Department of State strongly urges American citizens to depart the country while commercial carriers are still operating on an uninterrupted schedule. This supersedes the travel warning issued Feb. 10, 2004.

"The Department of State previously authorized the departure of family members and non-emergency employees of the U.S. Embassy on a voluntary basis. The U.S. Embassy has imposed a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on its staff and family members until further notice. The curfew hours may change. The Peace Corps has ordered its staff to depart Haiti until the situation stabilizes. American citizens should be aware that the U.S. Embassy has prohibited travel by its staff outside of Port-Au-Prince, and that the Embassy's ability to provide emergency services to American Citizens outside of Port-Au-Prince is limited and has drastically decreased in recent days due to numerous random roadblocks set up by armed groups. These roadblocks have cut off several major roads, making travel to Port-au-Prince and other cities difficult.

"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer travel to Haiti and urges American citizens to depart the country at their first safe opportunity. Americans are reminded of the potential for spontaneous demonstrations and violent confrontations between government supporters and students and other groups that oppose the government of Haiti.

"American citizens who remain in Haiti, despite this Travel Warning, should register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince and enroll in the warden system (emergency alert network) to obtain updated information on travel and security in Haiti. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at 104, rue Oswald Durand, Port-au-Prince. The telephone numbers are (509) 223-7011, 223-6440, 223-6443, 223-6421, 223-6426, 223-6424, 223-6407, 223-7008, 222-0200, the fax number is (509) 223-9665, and the email address is acspap@state.gov.

"There has been significant political tension over recent weeks in Port-au-Prince, Gonaives, Cap Haitien, St. Marc, Petit Goave, Grand Goave, Jacmel, and other parts of Haiti. The U.S. Embassy was closed several times due to civil unrest. From time to time, the Embassy may again close temporarily to assess its security posture. The Embassy's Regional Security Office has recommended that persons associated with the Embassy not remain in downtown Port-au-Prince after sunset and has directed that they remain in their homes during the hours covered by the curfew.

"Since the beginning of the year, some international organizations have decided to draw down their staffs in Haiti. Groups opposed to the government have mounted demonstrations and attacked government facilities around the country, and pro-government groups have counter-attacked. Haiti's security environment has been deteriorating as President Aristide has continued to politicize the Haitian National Police and used government resources to pay for violent gangs to attack opposition demonstrators. The government of Haiti has failed to maintain order in Port-au-Prince or in other cities and in some instances has assisted in violently repressing the demonstrations. Due to severe limitations on travel and communication inside the country, the Embassy's ability to assist U.S. citizens in Haiti is very limited at this time. American citizens who elect to remain in Haiti should remain vigilant.

"As the Department continues to develop information on potentially dangerous demonstrations and political unrest in Haiti, it shares that information through its Consular Information Program documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/haiti.html. U.S. travelers can also get up-to-date information on security conditions in Haiti by calling 1 (888) 407-4747 in the U.S. or Canada or on a regular toll line at 1 (317) 472-2328."

Meanwhile, The Bush administration said Thursday it would send a military team to Haiti to assess the security of the U.S. Embassy there, but stressed that it is still looking for a political solution to the bloody uprising against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The Pentagon announcement that a small number of military personnel was being sent to Haiti came as Aristide declared he was "ready to give my life" to defend Haiti, indicating he was not prepared to give up power.

Copyright 2004 by Local10.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Washington responds to action calls over Haiti

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Washington responds to action calls over Haiti*

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Washington responds to action calls over Haiti

Caption: Haitian armed rebels run during a march into the city of Gonaives, Haiti, February 19, 2004, which was taken over by an armed gang opposed to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The United States said on Thursday it was open to Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide stepping down, the first time it has publicly acknowledged his departure could be a way out of crisis. Around 50 people have been killed in the armed revolt in the poorest country in the Americas, where incomes average a dollar a day. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar

Washington responds to action calls over Haiti

29 minutes ago

By Guy Dinmore in Washington and Richard Lapper in New York

The US on Thursday said it would send a small military delegation to Haiti, as the security situation in the rebellion-torn Caribbean country continued to deteriorate.

The Pentagon (news - web sites) said the US military team would consist of three or four experts from Southern Command, which oversees the Caribbean. The move comes at the request of James Foley, the US ambassador to Haiti.

The despatch of a US team may herald a shift in tone from the previous US position, which held that a military or police intervention was not the right solution to Haiti's political crisis. Colin Powell (news - web sites), US secretary of state, reiterated this position earlier this week but said the US would stand by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in political negotiations.

The Organisation of American States was set on Thursday to discuss security assistance for Haiti's police force, whose poorly trained and ill-equipped units have been besieged by rebels in the town of Cap-Haitien.

Some 60 people have been killed since the rebellion began on February 5. The Associated Press reported that pro-government militants were manning barricades to protect Cap-Haitien, but police were taking refuge in their stations.

Rebels holding the north-western city of Gonaives said their movement would henceforth be called the National Resistance Front to Liberate Haiti, and would answer to one commander - Guy Philippe, a former police chief accused of planning a 2001 attack on Haiti's National Palace. Mr Philippe has returned from exile and is believed to have crossed the border from the Dominican Republic.

The US is stressing that due constitutional process must be followed in Haiti. But Mr Powell's comments reinforced a widespread impression in the region that the US no longer wholeheartedly supports Mr Aristide, whom the Clinton administration restored to power in 1994 by dispatching 20,000 US troops.

Mr Powell told ABC television that the US was working with the international community on a plan that would be presented to Mr Aristide and the political opposition. If a political solution were found, an international police force could be sent to Haiti, he added.

"In many cases it's just a few thugs that are dominating a particular town or city, and so what we have to try to do now is stand with President Aristide - he is the elected president of Haiti - and do what we can to help him," Mr Powell said.

The plan did not provide for Mr Aristide to step down, Mr Powell said, but he added: "You know, if an agreement is reached that moves that in another direction, that's fine." The US was not encouraging him to step down. Mr Aristide has already said he intends to see out his term, which ends in February 2006. His government's democratic credentials have been tarnished by allegations of fraud in a legislative election in 2000.

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