Haiti’s main international airport reopens

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Passengers wait to board a World Atlantic plane at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on May 20. (AP)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, May 21, (AP): Haiti’s main international airport reopened Monday for the first time in nearly three months after relentless gang violence forced authorities to close it.
The reopening of the Toussaint-Louverture airport in the capital of Port-au-Prince is expected to help ease a critical shortage of medications and other basic supplies. The country’s main seaport remains badly affected. Gangs control 80% of the capital.
US-based airlines are not expected to start using the airport until late May or early June.
The first commercial passenger flight since March left for Miami nearly two hours behind schedule, with sweating passengers complaining to local carrier Sunrise Airways about the lack of air conditioning until takeoff.
Before Monday, the sole airport operating in Haiti was located in the north coastal city of Cap-Haitien. It was out of reach for many seeking to flee the country, with roads leading from Port-au-Prince controlled by gangs that have opened fire on cars and buses passing through.
The US government had evacuated hundreds of citizens by helicopter out of a hilly neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, as did nonprofit organizations, as gangs laid siege to parts of the capital.
The attacks began on Feb 29, with gunmen seizing control of police stations, opening fire on the Port-au-Prince airport and storming Haiti’s two biggest prisons, freeing more than 4,000 inmates.
Gangs since then have directed their attacks on previously peaceful communities, leaving thousands homeless.
More than 2,500 people have been killed or injured in Haiti from January to March, a more than 50% increase compared to the same period last year, according to the United Nations.

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