Is Haiti Safe?
Is Haiti dangerous? Or is Haiti Safe?
Despite the frightening media depictions of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti has been a very common travel destination for many people over the years including Haitians visiting family, volunteers with aid organizations, and missionaries traveling with church groups.
When it comes to violent crime Haiti actually compares very favorably to other Caribbean countries. For example, Jamaica is a very popular tourist destination but has a murder rate almost 8 times that of Haiti.
Being in Haiti means dealing with many of the typical safety concerns that are present in all developing countries:
BAD WEATHER and other NATURAL DISASTERS hit harder in Haiti because of its historically poor infrastructure. Hurricanes can be tracked at www.nhc.noaa.gov. And you can be tracked in the event of an incident by registering with your Embassy in Haiti.
Americans, be safe in Haiti! Register here.
Canadians, be safe in Haiti! Register here.
INFECTIOUS DISEASES can be managed. Prepare by getting all recommended vaccinations (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, HepA, Typhoid, Cholera). Allow 1 month for vaccinations before your departure date because some series require 2 doses spread out over several weeks. Check the CDC website for more.
MALARIA carried by mosquitoes, is present in Haiti. Several oral medications can be used to protect against malaria. Chloroquine is the most common. Malarone and Doxycycline are alternatives.
KIDNAPPINGS were a serious problem in 2005 and 2006 but are much rarer today. Kidnapping-for-ransom occurs almost exclusively in Port au Prince. Avoid predictable routines (like leaving your workplace at the same time and taking the same route home every single day).
MUGGINGS do occur in Haiti, especially at night and especially around the few ATM’s in Port au Prince. Avoid using ATM’s. Do not walk by yourself at night. Carry only essentials with you when possible.
DEMONSTRATIONS in main streets and public spaces are a fairly regular occurrence in Haiti. The vast majority are peaceful but it is still best to avoid them.
INFRASTRUCTURE PROBLEMS can make traveling in Haiti more dangerous. Bad roads, a lack of streetlights and traffic lights, as well as aggressive motorcycle and taptap drivers can contribute to the dangers. Rely on a trusted driver until you have been in the country for a while and can navigate alone.
Make sure to ask about the traveler’s insurance policy held by your group or organization.
At the end of the day, Haiti is an exceptionally welcoming and beautiful country. Be prudent and prepared for your time there and you will join the countless foreigners who safely travel to Haiti every year.