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Haiti violence: US announces charter flight as clashes continue

Image shows unrest in Haiti as a man is about to throw a wheel into a pile of other burning car wheels.
Image shows unrest in Haiti as a man is about to throw a wheel into a pile of other burning car wheels.

The US State Department has announced a charter flight for its citizens stranded in Haiti, as gang violence and hunger grip the impoverished country.

Police in the capital Port-au-Prince are trying to recapture areas held by notorious gang leader Jimmy Chérizier.

Chérizier, known as "Barbecue", has a stronghold in the Delmas neighbourhood and police are trying to arrest him.

On Saturday police spokesman Lionel Lazarre said several "bandits" had been killed in the operation.

Mr Lazarre said police units entered the neighbourhood on Friday evening.

In another statement, the police said they fired shots at members of Barbecue's gang, cleared several roadblocks and seized firearms.

A Haitian source told AFP news agency about another operation on Saturday in which officers tried to regain control of the capital's main port, which has been shut since 7 March due to growing violence.

The situation for ordinary Haitians remains precarious and dangerous, while many embassies and consulates are airlifting their citizens out.

On Saturday stranded Americans were told by the state department a charter flight would depart from Cap-Haitien, a port city about 120 miles (193km) from Port-au-Prince.

But the state department said only US citizens with valid US passports would be allowed to travel and the flight would only go ahead if the situation at Cap-Haitien remained stable.

Last week, Washington airlifted its non-essential embassy staff from Port-au-Prince.

Gang leader Barbecue has been one of the most outspoken enemies of Ariel Henry, demanding his resignation ever since the latter was sworn in as prime minister.

Last Tuesday, Mr Henry resigned as prime minister after weeks of mounting pressure and escalating violence.

He had not been allowed back into Haiti after leaving in late January for visits to Guyana and Kenya, where he had signed a deal on the deployment of an international security force to help quell the violence.

Haiti: The basics

  • The Caribbean country shares a border with the Dominican Republic and has an estimated population of 11.5 million

  • It has a land area of 27,800 sq km, which is slightly smaller than Belgium and about the same size as the US state of Maryland

  • Chronic instability, dictatorships and natural disasters in recent decades have left Haiti the poorest nation in the Americas

  • An earthquake in 2010 killed more than 200,000 people and caused extensive damage to infrastructure and the economy

  • A UN peacekeeping force was put in place in 2004 to help stabilise the country and only withdrew in 2017

  • In July 2021, President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated by unidentified gunmen in Port-au-Prince. Amid political stalemate, the country continues to be wracked by unrest and gang violence

Haiti map
Haiti map