First charter flight with US citizens fleeing Haiti lands in Miami

First Charter Flight Carrying US Citizens Escaping Haiti Arrives in Miami

On Sunday, a charter flight with many U.S. citizens on board landed in Miami, escaping the escalating gang violence in Haiti, according to officials from the U.S. State Department.

The flight, chartered by the government, carried over 30 U.S. citizens. It arrived at Miami International Airport following a warning from the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. Earlier this month, the embassy advised U.S. citizens to leave Haiti “as soon as possible” due to the country’s deteriorating security situation.

Avlot Quessa, a Boston resident, was among the passengers. He had traveled from Haiti’s central region to catch the flight. Quessa had initially gone to Haiti for a week-long visit to see his mother last month.

Quessa shared with the Miami Herald his distress over the situation in Haiti. “It’s just terrible… The suffering, you can only imagine,” he said. Quessa, deeply connected to his homeland, finds it stressful to witness the violence and destruction in Haiti, a country that is also a neighbor to many.

The main airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, has been shut down due to gang attacks that have intensified in recent weeks. These attacks have pushed numerous people to the edge of famine. Over the weekend, reports emerged of looting of aid supplies as the crisis in Haiti worsened.

In response to the chaos, the State Department announced on Saturday its plan to offer limited charter flights from Cap-Haïtien, a northern city less affected by the turmoil. This announcement came as a relief to many, including Avlot Quessa, who managed to secure a spot on one of these flights.

However, the State Department clarified that it could not provide ground transportation to Cap-Haïtien. It advised U.S. citizens to consider the charter flights “only if you think you can reach Cap-Haïtien airport safely.”

The department has urged U.S. citizens still in Haiti and wishing to leave to get in touch using the crisis intake form on their website, if they haven’t done so already.

Those taking the U.S. government-coordinated flights are required to sign a promissory bill, agreeing to reimburse the government for the cost.

Marie Lucie St. Fleur, 69, from West Palm Beach, was another passenger on Sunday’s flight. St. Fleur, who feels a deep connection to Haiti, expressed her sorrow over the current state of her homeland. “I don’t feel well at all. I would like to live in my country, and I can’t,” she said, visibly distressed and in a wheelchair.

Upon arrival in Miami, government officials were on hand to assist the evacuees in figuring out their next steps.

Last week, the U.S. military deployed additional forces to enhance security at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, which is located in an area largely under gang control.