Haiti’s Primary Airport Resumes Operations after Nearly 3 Months Closure Due to Gang Violence

By LG Staff

By LG Staff

May 22, 2024

Haiti’s main international airport, Toussaint-Louverture, reopened on Monday after being shut down for almost three months due to persistent gang violence.

The reopening of the airport, located in the capital of Port-au-Prince, is expected to alleviate the critical shortage of medications and other essential supplies, with the country’s main seaport still paralyzed. Gangs currently control 80% of the capital.

While U.S.-based airlines are not expected to resume operations until late May or early June, the first commercial passenger flight departed for Miami, albeit nearly two hours behind schedule. Passengers endured discomfort due to the lack of air conditioning until takeoff. The flight, operated by local carrier Sunrise Airways, was contracted to Florida-based charter airline World Atlantic, which provided paper towels to the perspiring passengers.

As the plane took off, one passenger whispered softly, “Yes. Yes.”

Prior to Monday, the only operational airport in Haiti was located in the northern coastal city of Cap-Haitien, which was inaccessible to many seeking to leave the country due to gang-controlled roads leading from Port-au-Prince. These gangs have targeted cars and buses passing through, opening fire on them.

Amid the violence, the U.S. government and nonprofit organizations evacuated hundreds of citizens by helicopter from a hilly neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, which was besieged by gangs.

The wave of attacks began on Feb. 29, with gunmen seizing control of police stations, launching attacks on the Port-au-Prince airport, and storming Haiti’s two largest prisons, resulting in the release of over 4,000 inmates.

Since then, gangs have targeted previously peaceful communities, leaving thousands homeless.

According to the United Nations, more than 2,500 people have been killed or injured in Haiti from January to March, marking a more than 50% increase compared to the same period last year.

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