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Haiti Travel Warning Issued By U.S., Canadians Cautioned

12/29/2012 08:40 EST | Updated 02/28/2013 05:12 EST
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A Haitian traveler waits for a bus going to Gonaives from Port-au-Prince on Aptil 11, 2011. The bus charges 225 Gourdes (5.67USD) and takes three hours to reach the northern Haitian city. According to the CIA, Haiti ranks 155th in the world in terms of roadways, with a total of 4,160kms (2,585 miles) of which 3,149kms (1,957 miles) are unpaved. The most common form of public transportation in Haiti is the âtap tap,â the buses and pick-up trucks that circulate throughout Port-au-Prince and its suburbs, known for their lavish decorations, bright colors and loud music. Tap taps will charge anywhere from 5 to 50 Gourdes (0.12 to 1.26USD), depending on the distance traveled. Buses are on the whole less expensive than tap taps but restrict their routes between the capital and other cities. Where a tap tap will charge 50 Gourdes (1.26USD), a bus will charge 35 (0.88USD), while traveling in a truck will cost 30 Gourdes (0.75USD). By far the most numerous but most expensive is the motorcycle taxi, with fares ranging from 25 to 100 Gourdes (0.63 to 2.52USD), which are agreed to with the driver before travel. AFP PHOTO/HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
The U.S. State Department is warning against travel to Haiti because of recent reports of killings, robbery and infectious disease, and Ottawa is also urging Canadians to "exercise a high degree of caution" because of high crime rates in various parts of Haiti.

The U.S. travel advisory issued Friday says any visitors to Haiti could be at risk of being kidnapped.

The department says people arriving in Port-au-Prince from the U.S. have been attacked and robbed after leaving the airport, with at least two Americans shot and killed in 2012.

"Thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Haiti each year, but the poor state of Haiti’s emergency response network should be carefully considered when planning travel," the advisory says. "Travellers to Haiti are encouraged to use organizations that have solid infrastructure, evacuation and medical support options in place."

The department says Haitian authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate violent acts or prosecute criminals.

"The ability of local authorities to respond to emergencies is limited and in some areas non-existent," it says.

The State Department also notes that cholera persists in many areas of Haiti and medical facilities are particularly weak.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada said in an advisory updated Dec. 21 and validated Saturday that Canadians "should exercise a high degree of caution due to high crime rates in various parts of the country and ongoing political tensions."

The department is advising against non-essential travel to the neighbourhoods of Martissant, Carrefour, Bel Air and Cité Soleil in the Port-au-Prince area "as the security situation is particularly unstable and dangerous."

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