US State Department bars officials from traveling to Haiti

The US State Department banned government officials from traveling to Haiti in a statement issued Friday following violent demonstrations. It also advised American citizens to consider leaving the impoverished Caribbean country where protests over high costs of living left five dead in the countryside. The warning comes despite a general sense of calm settling over Port-au-Prince. "If you don't need to stay, you might consider departing," said James Ellickson-Brown, spokesman for the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince. An estimated 19,000 US citizens live in Haiti, most dual-nationals who live in the capital. More than 140 American citizens have been kidnapped since 2005, but few were short-term visitors, the US Embassy said.