Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Exercise Caution

There has been an increase in crime and security related incidents in recent weeks, including a number of incidents involving U.S. and other western tourists and armed robberies, many occurring outside of banks and/or ATM machines. Please continue to be vigilant with regard to personal protective measures. In analyzing recent crime and security incidents, some common themes have emerged to keep in mind.

� Some areas in Port-au-Prince, such as Petion-Ville, are heightened crime areas simply because of opportunity and the presence of wealth.

� U.S. citizens are strongly advised against going out on foot/walking around, particularly after dark. Many of the recent robberies occurred when the victims were on foot.

� If you are dining out, park at or as close to the restaurant as possible.

� Avoid using public ATMs and banks. Many of the robberies have occurred at or outside of banks. In some cases, the victims were surveyed by the bandits who then followed them to another location and robbed them. Be mindful of your surroundings and that people could be targeting you for a robbery. Some local businesses report that daily robberies occur outside of their vehicle gates and that individuals survey people using the ATM machines from the parking lot when the ATM is outside of the market.

If anyone demands money or property from you, e.g., your car, DO NOT RESIST. Simply comply with their demands. Avoid direct eye contact and sudden movements; however, do not appear to be intentionally stalling or hesitating. Several robberies have resulted in shooting incidents because the victims were perceived to be resisting.

Please keep in mind that demonstrations in Haiti, even peaceful ones, can escalate quickly and even turn violent, so the Embassy urges all U.S. citizens to remain vigilant, be aware of their surroundings, and avoid this area as much as possible. Should you find yourself among or near protesters, depart the area immediately.

The following checklist is a baseline self-assessment instrument for U.S. citizens to evaluate their daily habits and practices to improve their own security awareness.

Daily Security Habits and Practices

Do you vary your times and routes to and from work?

Do you keep your doors locked and windows closed (residence and vehicle)?

Do you check the interior and exterior of your vehicle prior to getting into your vehicle? Look for things that are irregular or abnormal.

Do you maintain a low personal profile by not doing anything that draws attention to yourself?

Are you alert to what is going on around you?

Are your colleagues and family aware of your daily plans and do they know how to reach you

Schedules that are the most predictable leave you the most vulnerable. Be unpredictable when possible in both your work and social schedules.

Always be aware of your surroundings.

In traffic, always attempt to leave space in which to maneuver. Always leave yourself an exit. Be prepared to take evasive action at any time.

Avoid choke points in travel. Be wary of diversions.

If you are being followed or harassed by another driver, try to find the nearest police station, hotel, or other public facility. Never lead the person back to your home or stop and get out.

Whenever possible, do not have a set day for shopping, errands and personal needs. Be unpredictable.

Never give out your personal information such as family member and household staff names, addresses and telephone numbers in an open setting.

Ensure all of your family members are briefed on security measures.

Source: U.S. Department of State