What's happening: State of emergency in Haiti


What’s happening in Haiti?

Heavily armed gangs launched significant attacks on two of the largest prisons in Port-au-Prince between 2 - 3 March, resulting in the escape of over 4,700 prisoners. The government declared a State of Emergency (SoE) for the Ouest Department and imposed a curfew.

The G9 and G-Pep gangs, after recently formed an alliance, have targeted government infrastructure, police stations and the airport to prevent Prime Minister Ariel Henry from returning to Haiti from Kenya. Consequently, commercial flights have been suspended, and the airport remains closed as of 6 March.

Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, influential gangs in Port-au-Prince operate with impunity. Gangs are also operating with little resistance in areas previously considered more secure, such as Petion-Ville.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry has served as Haiti's de facto leader since Moïse’s assassination. However, Henry's authority is not universally accepted, with many Haitians holding him accountable for the deteriorating security situation. Despite Haiti's extreme security risk rating, recent developments are indicative of a rapid deterioration in the security risk environment.

The situation in Haiti is unlikely to improve in the next six months

The situation remains highly fluid and dangerous. All international airlines have suspended flight services to Haiti, causing significant travel disruption and complicating evacuation efforts. Ground moves in Port-au-Prince are severely hindered by checkpoints and blockades set up by civilians and the police. Additionally, armed clashes have damaged crucial infrastructure, resulting in power outages in the capital and jeopardising the distribution of essential supplies.

The ongoing wave of violence heightens security and operational risks in Haiti, with crime, kidnappings, and intra-state conflicts posing extreme dangers. The security environment is unlikely to improve in the next six months. It is highly probable that Haiti will experience a breakdown in official capacity to address gang violence. G9, G-Pep, and other Haitian gangs are expected to continue opposing Prime Minister Henry and the proposed 2025 election. Henry is likely to remain the de facto Prime Minister from abroad. Gang activity will likely keep the airport closed in the short term, despite an increased police presence.

Advice for travellers and organisations

Travellers in-country are advised to remain in a secure location and minimise non-essential movement across Haiti until the situation has stabilised or evacuation options have been confirmed. Should airports reopen, reconfirm the status of evacuation flights or border crossings before departing for the airport or attempting overland evacuation routes.

Travellers should endeavour to be self-sufficient and should ensure that they have back-up communications systems in place should mobile and internet networks fail. Strictly bypass government buildings, any associated local police infrastructure, and known criminal hotspots. Access to medical services is severely limited and, in some locations, non-existent. Monitor local development and abide by all official directives.

Risk Managers should continue to keep personnel informed and updated, conducting regular check-ins with all staff. Liaise within local contacts and security partners to assess the viability of business-critical operations in Port-au-Prince and other areas of the country.

If you require support, please contact enquiries@healix.com for more information.

Felipe Wagner
Threat Analyst
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