WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- No one is immune from kidnapping or sexual assault in the post-election violence in Haiti, the U.S. State Department said in a travel warning.
Already struggling to recover from a massive earthquake in January, violence escalated in Haiti as the country geared up for presidential elections. Rioters took to the streets following the first round of elections in late November in cities throughout the country.
The U.S. State Department advised against all non-essential travel for its citizens in Haiti, warning that embassy officials don't have the capacity or the infrastructure needed to evacuate citizens in trouble.
"No one is immune from kidnapping, regardless of one's occupation, nationality, race, gender or age," the warning stressed.
The warning said that Haitian police believe gangs are targeting travelers who arrive in Haiti from the United States, accosting them shortly after they leave the airport.
U.S. citizens in Haiti "should be extremely vigilant," the State Department said, and exercise caution while staying in the country.
"The level of violent crime in Port-au-Prince, including murder and kidnapping, remains high, and Haitian authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate such acts or prosecute perpetrators," the warning added.