Chaos in Haiti
Its every traveler’s worst nightmare: being stranded in a foreign country during sudden turmoil and having no idea what will happen or when you will be able to return home. Those fears became a reality for tourists and missionaries visiting Haiti from the United States last week.
The civil unrest occurred because of a government spike in fuel prices, leading to the resignation of Haiti’s Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant. Armed rioters flooded the streets, setting up fiery roadblocks and forbidding anyone to pass. Buildings were robbed and set on fire; including a hotel in Port-au-Prince where 120 Americans were reportedly staying, according to Fox News.
The State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs advised American citizens against traveling. The incident caused the closure of the airport in the capital city of Port-au-Prince and the stoppage of many flights to and from the United States. American Airlines, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines also canceled flights to Haiti last week because of the protests.
“We had many teams scheduled to go in and many travelers on the ground. One of our large partners had 157 travelers stuck for several days”
– Stacy Williams, Director of Client Relations for MissionSafe.
Because of MissionSafe’s relationship with a fellow insurance carrier, coverage was easily and quickly extended for the stranded travelers. In the middle of the chaos, they also worked diligently to medivac three individuals out who had run out of life-saving medications. In addition, because of the relationship, they were able to garner refunds quickly and efficiently.
Six groups cancelled their trips to Haiti (both large mission sending organizations and smaller independent churches). One team was re-routed to the Dominican Republic and another to Turks and Caicos.
A security alert from the US Embassy in Haiti on Saturday said it was open for routine and emergency services for US citizens but issued several alerts about specific demonstrations and urged citizens to avoid those areas. Haiti is currently at a Level 3 – RECONSIDER TRAVEL alert.
Horrifying situations are made a bit easier thanks to travel medical insurance from MissionSafe, which has options for features such as trip cancellation.