Stay Safe in Haiti
WARNING: In 2012, Canada advised its citizens to “exercise extreme caution” due to high crime rates and the United States warned its citizens that “the ability of local authorities to respond to emergencies is limited and non-existent in some areas” as some visitors have been assaulted, robbed, shot or killed. [www] [www]
Since the earthquake of 12 January 2010, many people still live on the streets, in makeshift shelters. There have been a number of protests and an increase in criminal activity. Be careful when travelling in Haiti. Overall, exercise caution and use common sense. Do not carry large amounts of cash and do not walk the dark streets late at night.
Women should not walk alone on the island. The number of people who fled to the island after the earthquake is not known, but the atmosphere on the island has changed some people. Even when women walk with other men, Haitian men can still make comments. They are not afraid to make eye contact and their looks can be unpleasant. It is best to be polite but watch out for your immediate group.
Stay Healthy in Haiti
WARNING: After the deployment of UN peacekeepers in response to the 2010 earthquake, there was a major cholera outbreak. By August 2015, after the rainy season led to a surge in cases, more than 700,000 Haitians had contracted cholera and the death toll had risen to 9,000. Cholera, which is spread through contaminated food and water, can lead to dehydration and death. Local medical care is woefully inadequate in many potentially dangerous areas.
Sanitary conditions in Haiti are poor. Tap water should be avoided. Drink bottled water only.
Health care is below the standard of developed countries, but is available in all major cities. Many small towns and villages also have health clinics. However, there can be shortages of medical equipment and a variety of medicines.
The biggest concerns for travellers to Haiti are malaria and dehydration. It is advisable to make an appointment for malaria prophylaxis at a travel clinic. Hydration needs can be met by using one of the many water purification systems, as if camping, or by buying bottled water once in Haiti (which is widely available and inexpensive by Western standards). Washing with water from places like streams or lakes is not recommended because of the risk of waterborne diseases. Vaccinations are not compulsory but are strongly recommended. Visit your doctor or a local hospital or clinic about a month before your trip to find out what types of vaccinations they recommend.
Depending on your itinerary, you may have to walk a lot. It is important to wear comfortable shoes to avoid blisters. Walking shoes and comfortable sandals are recommended.