Travel warning won’t deter Catholics from visiting Haiti


By Anne Marie Amacher

A member of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf administers medication while on a mission trip to Haiti last year. The U.S. Department of State issued new travel warnings in late 2012, but two groups in the Diocese of Davenport still plan to make their trips next month to Haiti.

Despite a new travel warning for Haiti issued by the U.S. Department of State, two groups from the Diocese of Davenport plan to take mission trips there next month.
On Dec. 28 the government’s warning advised U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Haiti of the current security situation. Its previous warning was dated June 18. Both warnings offered information on the level of crime, presence of cholera, lack of adequate infrastructure; seasonal, severe inclement weather and limited police protection.
The state department urges “U.S. citizens to exercise caution when visiting Haiti.” It states that U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime predominantly in the Port-au-Prince area.
Liz McDermott of the nonprofit ServeHAITI said the group still plans to make a trip in February.
“It’s really frustrating when the State Department does this because it is the same warning they have had in place for the last 10 years,” said McDermott, a member of Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire. “When they do this, it deters people from going when they are desperately needed.” She notes that Haiti’s crime rate is lower than Washington, D.C.’s, crime rate.
As with travel to any foreign country, she said, “you assume some risk, but as long as you keep your head up and are aware of your surroundings, make proper plans logistically (good drivers and safe  lodging in Port-au-Prince) there is no more risk than usual.”

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