U.S. Works On Haiti Evacuation Options As Violence Escalates

The U.S. State Department is exploring its options to help evacuate American citizens who are trapped in Haiti.

The country is currently experiencing a very violent situation, as different gangs are looking to seize control of the capital, which has forced more than 15,000 people to flee from their homes.

On Tuesday, 10 U.S. nationals were sent via a private plane to Florida, which was chartered by missionary groups that operate in Haiti.

There are plenty of others who are hoping to flee the country, as CBS News reported recently.

On Tuesday, Vendant Patel, a deputy spokesperson for the State Department, said:

“We continue to explore options that we have at our disposal when it comes to American citizens interested in departing Haiti.”

He added that almost 1,000 people have gone to the department’s website to fill out a crisis intake form, as they’re looking for different ways that they could leave Haiti.

Patel said that the State Department would “remain in touch with those American citizens.”

Reporters asked him whether the federal government helped to arrange those private flights that have been arranged for Americans to evacuate Haiti — in some of those cases through the help of members of Congress — Patel said those missions deviating from formal State Department operations” could actually be very high risk.

At the same time, he stressed that the U.S. government welcomes any citizen of the U.S. doing whatever they can to get out of the country safely.

CBS News spoke to Gregoire Leconte, a man who has a U.S. passport and was one of the hundreds of people who are in Cap-Haitien attempting to leave Haiti on Tuesday, though he wasn’t able to find a flight.

As he said to CBS News:

“The situation is very bad in Haiti.”

While people were waiting to leave the country, a separate missionary flight landed in Cap-Haitien from Fort Pierce, Florida, with about 5,300 pounds of humanitarian supplies such as baby formula and food.

Workers at the the airport told Tania Francois, the only journalist who was on the flight, that it was the first plane that arrived in Haiti from the U.S. carrying provisions and passengers.

In addition to dropping off the much-needed supplies, the flight brought 14 people back to the U.S. — 10 of whom had a U.S. passport and four of whom were Haitian nationals.

One of the Haitian passengers on the flight, Christian Pierre, told Francois:

“It’s not what I wish, because Haiti is my country.”

She further said that she was traveling to America because it was the only way that her son, who is 15 months old and is an American national, could visit a pediatrician.

Annexe Soufferance, another Haitian on the flight, was returning to America with a student visa after he was visiting some of his family members. He said:

“I’m glad for the opportunity I have to study in the U.S., but my goal is to come back and serve my country.”