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Lydia Baccino, Hae Lim Park, Pike Wipperfurth, Extremism/NORTHCOM/SOUTHCOM/PACOM Team

Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor

July 29, 2023

Port-au-Prince, Capital of Haiti[1]

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT to citizens, residents, and visitors of Haiti following the kidnapping of a US citizen, identified as Alix Dorsainvil, and her child from the nation’s capital. Dorsainvil is a nurse working for the non-profit humanitarian organization El Roi Haiti Outreach International outside the nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince. Five days prior, Haitian journalist, Blondine Tanis, was kidnapped for ransom on her way home from working at the local radio station.[2] On July 27, the US State Department ordered all non-emergency government staff, their families, and US citizens to evacuate the region following the rise in kidnappings, civil unrest, and poor healthcare resources. Advice from the State Department instructs citizens to leave as soon as possible through commercial or private transportation.[3] The State Department instructed that government personnel must confine themselves to Embassy-approved areas. Activities that have been prohibited for US citizens include the use of public transportation, banks/ATMs, driving at night, traveling between 0100 to 0500, and traveling without approval and security procedures in place.[4]

CTG is on HIGH alert for the safety of US citizens following the rise of kidnappings occurring within Haiti. The international community has warned the rise of kidnapping is amongst the larger wave of abductions and killings. Gangs have taken over the majority of Port au Prince, conducting attacks, killings, kidnappings, and gender-based violence to cause chaos and civil unrest. The consistent violence and civil unrest continue to threaten Haitians daily, forcing approximately 165,000 locals to flee their homes. The violence has also been targeting foreigners, including US citizens, demanding ransoms in exchange. The unrest accelerated after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021 as the government never fully recovered from the interrupted leadership.[5] The international community has struggled to address rising gang violence, attacks, kidnappings, and killings in Haiti.

On July 27 an American woman, identified as Alix Doesainvil, and her child were kidnapped from El Roi Haiti Outreach International campus located near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. On the same day, the US State Department released a statement that ordered the evacuation of US citizens including non-emergency government officials. It is recommended that evacuation should happen as soon as possible through the use of commercial or private transport. The reasoning for this order relates to the increase in kidnappings, civil unrest, and poor health infrastructure. Five days prior to this kidnapping another kidnapping of a Haitian journalist occurred as she was abducted traveling home from her job at the local radio station. Attackers commonly follow their victims from Haiti’s international airport located in Port-au-Prince, later attacking and robbing them. Tactics used by gangs focus on attacks on private vehicles, often in traffic, and alone.[6] The National Human Rights Defense Network reported on the increase in violent crimes in the Haitian region, from May 1 to July 12 2023 there have been approximately 40 abductions, 75 homicides, and several assassination attempts.[7] Following the assassination of President Moïse, when local law enforcement was heavily occupied, gangs were able to grow in power and confidence to commit kidnappings for ransom, gang rapes, tortures, and murders.[8] The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has detailed the ongoing situation here of gang crime leading to 165,000 people being internally displaced. Additional pressure for the IOM comes from the severe floods, affecting over 46,000 people and displacing over 13,000 citizens. Approximately 1,630 people were killed, wounded, or kidnapped within the first three months of 2023. This is a 30% increase compared to the same period in 2022.[9]

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry called for international support to help combat the increasing crime rates in the region with Kenya coming forward in support. Kenyan authorities have formulated a plan where they would lead a multinational police force “help train and assist Haitian police to restore normalcy in the country and protect strategic installations.”[10] It is estimated that this police force would need up to 10,000 personnel, including 1,000 Kenyan personnel, and law enforcement members made up of police forces from several countries and Caribbean nations. Additionally, Kenya will be providing a police “assessment mission” to Haiti to “inform and guide the mandate and operational requirements” of the deployment.[11]

Gang violence, including kidnappings, killings, and civil unrest will very likely continue in Haiti without assistance from the international community. Kidnappings and killings of foreign citizens will likely rise, likely pushing nations to order foreign citizens to evacuate Haiti. The international community will likely draw their law enforcement and military to form a multinational force to assist Haitian police and military to address gang-related violence and influence, protect foreign travelers and foreign non-governmental organization workers, and curb civil unrest. International organizations will likely send humanitarian aid to address the shortages of medical supplies and healthcare assistance to help with the ongoing chaos and cholera outbreak. Despite efforts of humanitarian organizations to address these shortages, it is very likely that humanitarian corridors will remain blocked without direct intervention in combating and dismantling gangs in the country.

It is very likely that foreign travelers or workers with foreign citizenship will be targeted by kidnapping attempts and gang violence. It is likely that these groups will monitor bus stations, airports, taxi parks, hotels, and other popular expat or travel destinations for potential targets with foreign ties. Almost certainly kidnapping events will continue to target individuals who have the highest probability of receiving large ransom payouts. It is very likely that personnel working for foreign non-governmental, humanitarian, or faith-based organizations, and their families, will be considered high-value targets by these groups. It is likely that gangs will utilize their local networks to identify, locate, and monitor high-value targets with a roughly even chance of these networks having direct interactions or potentially even being employed by these organizations. As gangs increasingly target this demographic and become more embedded in society, other humanitarian organizations may refrain from carrying out their operations in the country, almost certainly strengthening gang control over large segments of the country and its available resources.

CTG recommends that all US citizens comply with the US State Department order on all non-emergency US government workers and diplomatic family members to evacuate and all US citizens in Haiti to leave. US citizens should also avoid future travels to Haiti. US citizens should remain indoors and minimize any outdoor activities, staying calm and vigilant of their surroundings when outside. If traveling, US citizens should travel in groups, avoid crowded areas, and travel by vehicles with closed windows and locked doors. When leaving Haiti, individuals should reserve commercial transportation options as soon as possible to avoid overcrowding at airports, ports, and train stations. US citizens should be cautious to not provide personal information to unauthorized personnel even inside the airport, always requesting formal identification from uniformed individuals before providing their personal information.

CTG assesses that the current threat climate is HIGH given the recent kidnapping of US citizens in Haiti and the continuing violence and civil unrest throughout Haiti. Locals and foreign citizens, particularly women who travel alone, are at high risk. The threats are considered high risk due to their potential to escalate further if no assistance from the international community is provided. Even if foreign citizens are allowed to leave the country, locals will continue to suffer from violence daily and be forced to relocate. The continuous cycle of violence, civil unrest, and chaos perpetuated by gang violence will likely increase fear and instability throughout Haiti. Gangs will very likely capitalize on current political and economic instability, likely deteriorating the power of the national government and law enforcement. Humanitarian assistance will almost certainly be needed to aid locals struggling to receive basic humanitarian aid and medical assistance.

Analysis indicates that there is a HIGH PROBABILITY of an increasingly dangerous threat landscape in Haiti. It is VERY LIKELY that political turmoil, environmental disaster, and increasingly dire socio-economic conditions will result in an overall increased level of violence, kidnappings, murders, and displacement in the country. Foreign travelers will VERY LIKELY be the target for kidnapping and subsequent ransom demands, particularly those with ties to non-governmental, humanitarian, or faith-based organizations operating in Haiti. These organizations will LIKELY follow the US’s example of removing its personnel and operations from the country, ALMOST CERTAINLY exacerbating the underlying conditions for the violence in the first place. It is LIKELY that international intervention will be required to curb the increasing violence and deteriorating threat landscape in Haiti.


[1] Haiti by Google Maps

[2] American nurse and her child are kidnapped in Haiti, nonprofit says, The Washington Post, July 2023,

[3] US orders government personnel, family members to leave Haiti, Reuters, July 2023,

[5] Haitian president was fighting to stay in power when he was assassinated, NBC, July 2021,

[6] American nurse and her child are kidnapped in Haiti, nonprofit says, The Washington Post, July 2023,

[7] The resurgence of acts against lives and property: RNDDH urges police authorities to act, National Human Rights Defense Network, July 2023,

[9] Gang Violence Displaces 165,000 in Haiti, Hinders Aid Efforts, International Organization for Migration, June 2023,

[10] American nurse and her child are kidnapped in Haiti, nonprofit says, The Washington Post, July 2023,

[11] Ibid


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