First charter flight with US citizens fleeing Haiti arrives in Miami

Dozens of U.S. citizens fleeing the chaotic gang violence in Haiti landed safely in Miami on Sunday, the U.S. State Department confirmed.

More than 30 American citizens were taken on a U.S. government-chartered flight from Cap-Haitien, Haiti, to Miami International Airport on Sunday night after the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince advised U.S. citizens to depart from the Caribbean nation as soon as possible, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a press conference Monday.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced last week he will resign upon the creation of a transitional presidential council as violence rages on in the nation. Henry’s announcement followed a meeting with Caribbean leaders and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jamaica, where they agreed to a joint proposal for the creation of a transitional council.

Haiti is in a state of emergency as gangs have taken control of several areas in the country, including the neighborhood surrounding the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs earlier this month said over 360,000 people have been displaced due to the violence.

Asked on Monday if there will be more flights, Patel told reporters the department is taking the process “step by step,” noting it is a “fluid and quickly evolving situation.” He said the department is continuously in touch with American citizens on the ground in Haiti.

Avlot Quessa, one of the passengers aboard Sunday’s flight, told the Miami Herald upon landing that it has been “very stressful” to see Haiti, which he called his homeland, “going through this act of violence, destruction … and they are our neighbors.”

Quessa, who lives in Boston, said he went to Haiti last month in what was supposed to be a weeklong trip to visit his mother. Haiti’s main airport in Port-au-Prince has been closed amid the violence as hundreds of thousands of Haitian residents are faced with famine.

The State Department announced over the weekend it would provide limited charter flights, while noting it could not provide ground transportation, The Associated Press reported.

U.S. citizens in Haiti are advised to use the State Department’s crisis intake form, while the department noted Americans should consider the charter flights “only if you think you can reach Cap-Haïtien airport safely,” per The AP.

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