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US Embassy in Haiti begins evacuations amid heightened gang violence

The United States embassy in Haiti began evacuating some of its personnel on Sunday due to escalating gang violence.

“The U.S. Embassy in Haiti remains open. Heightened gang violence in the neighborhood near U.S. embassy compounds and near the airport led to the State Department’s decision to arrange for the departure of additional embassy personnel. All arriving and departing passengers work for the U.S. government,” the embassy said in a statement.

“The State Department continually adjusts its posture at U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the world in line with its mission, the local security environment, and the health situation, as pertinent,” it continued.

The U.S. had previously evacuated family members of U.S. government employees and non-emergency U.S. government employees last July due to heightened violence and crime. Haiti has now been gripped by a recent wave of crime, largely due to escalating gang violence.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry is in Puerto Rico and unable to return to his country under threat of “civil war” by an alliance of gangs. He is also facing increasing pressure to resign from gangs hoping for political power, and critics are also taking aim at the election system in the country, according to The Associated Press.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Henry last week, the department said. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said they discussed the “ongoing political, security, and humanitarian crisis in Haiti.”

Miller noted that the U.S. has urged Henry and “other key stakeholders in Haiti to reach a compromise that will end the ongoing political stalemate.”

The Hill has reached out to the State Department for comment.

The Associated Press contributed.

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