First Americans Evacuated from Haiti’s Chaos Arrive in Miami

By: Georgia | Last updated: Mar 21, 2024

The first flight from Haiti in two weeks successfully landed at Miami International Airport on a Sunday afternoon, bringing much-needed relief to those onboard. 

This flight, a Global X charter from Cap-Haïtien, arrived precisely at 2:30 p.m. The significance of this flight’s arrival was not just in its timing but in the hope it represented for the 47 U.S. citizens onboard, all escaping the intensifying chaos in Haiti.

Flight Discovery and Departure

Passengers on the flight shared that they became aware of the U.S.-sponsored flight through an email.

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A front-facing view of a commercial airplane with extended landing gear descending against a backdrop of a clear blue sky with scattered white clouds

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This crucial information, along with further details, was also accessible through the State Department’s web page.

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State Department's Assistance and Confirmation

Upon the flight’s arrival, the State Department confirmed the successful landing and the ongoing assistance being provided to the passengers. 

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A man in a red t-shirt and jeans is seen dragging a large wooden log across a street littered with debris and lined with green glass bottles, forming a makeshift barricade. To the right, a large fire is blazing, with flames engulfing what appears to be a pile of rubbish and wood

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A spokesperson stated, “We will continue to assist U.S. citizens as long as commercial options remain unavailable and the security environment permits us to do so.” 

Port-au-Prince: A City Under Siege

The situation in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, has become perilous with gangs nearly taking control and the sound of constant gunfire, forcing residents to remain indoors for their safety. 

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A man with his face covered by a bandana walks through a street while carrying a rifle. The scene shows signs of disorder with debris scattered along the roadside and a pile of trash in the background

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This dire situation has put the lives of approximately one million people at risk, escalating the urgency for evacuations.

The Growing Fear of Starvation

As the violence has escalated, aid groups have ceased operations, leading to a growing fear of starvation among the residents. 

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Armed individuals in camouflage military gear patrol a street, with onlookers in casual clothing observing them. Small fires burn on the road

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The cessation of relief efforts has exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation, leaving many without access to essential supplies.

Personal Accounts of Desperation

Among those evacuated was Avlot Quesaa, who was in Haiti visiting his mother. 

A group of Haitian people are seated closely together, likely at a community event. A woman in a green headwrap holds a sleeping child in a blue outfit, her attention directed away from the camera

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He described the conditions as terrible, saying, “The suffering you can only imagine.” Quesaa’s testimony sheds light on the grim reality faced by those in Haiti during this tumultuous period.

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The Journey to Safety

For those like Quesaa, the opportunity to leave Haiti came with conditions. 

A vibrant street in Haiti, lined with colorful buildings showing signs of wear and age. People walk down the narrow street flanked by shops with varied facades and hanging clothes for sale. In the distance, the white and brown dome of a cathedral rises against the blue sky

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He told CBS News Miami that he registered with the U.S. Embassy and signed a promissory note to pay for the flight at a later date, a necessary step for many seeking escape from the chaos.

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Advisory for Travelers to Cap-Haïtien

The journey to Cap-Haïtien, for many, was fraught with danger. 

People browse a street market set against a backdrop of decaying urban infrastructure in Haiti. The market stalls are makeshift, with goods covered under tattered umbrellas and tarps. A large pile of refuse is strewn on the street beside the vendors

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The U.S. government warned that the trip from Port-au-Prince to Cap-Haïtien was hazardous and advised considering the flight “only if you believe you can reach Cap-Haïtien airport safely.” 

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Haiti's Hunger Crisis

Jean-Martin Bauer, Haiti director for the United Nation’s World Food Program, expressed grave concerns about the hunger crisis in Haiti.

A line of United Nations vehicles is arranged on a vast, open airstrip, ready to embark on a humanitarian mission. The fleet is led by a prominent armored vehicle with "WFP" (World Food Programme) emblazoned on the side, signifying its purpose for food aid delivery. Following are several white minibuses with the "U.N." logo

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He said “Haiti is facing a protractive and mass hunger,” with conditions comparable to war zones. 

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Challenges in Aid Distribution

The violence and control exerted by gangs have significantly hindered the distribution of food, water, and medical supplies. 

A group of men stacking boxes of aid from a ship that has ‘WOLRD FOOD PROGRAM’ written on the side

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Attempts to deliver aid to shelters and affected areas have been stifled, with many Haitians trapped in their homes and unable to access basic necessities.

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The Struggle for Control and its Consequences

With nearly 200 gangs operating in Haiti and a significant concentration in Port-au-Prince, the battle for control has led to widespread violence and displacement. 

This image shows a gang of men walking down the streets, many have their faces covered and are holding rifles

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The gang’s dominance over 80% of the capital has resulted in numerous casualties and has left over 15,000 people homeless.

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International Response and Funding Shortfall

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged $25 million in aid, in addition to $33 million announced earlier. 

The image shows a close up view of 2 USAID bags, they have the US flag printed on them and they say ‘WHEAT’

Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, Jean-Martin Bauer highlighted that the humanitarian appeal for Haiti this year is less than 3% funded, with a critical need for $95 million in the next six months. This funding gap poses a significant challenge in addressing the concurrent crises of conflict and hunger in Haiti.

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