updated 12/22/2004 8:59:19 PM ET 2004-12-23T01:59:19

The United States is alerting travelers that Haiti’s main airport does not meet international security standards, though U.S. officials are working to help the resolve the problem, an official said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has directed airlines that provide flights between the United States and the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince to notify travelers of the warning, Darrin Kayser, a spokesman for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, said Wednesday.

Homeland Security also ordered U.S. airports to display the warning prominently, Kayser said.

For security reasons, Kayser declined to discuss the specific safety weaknesses at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport.

He said Transportation Security Administration inspectors found the airport didn’t meet requirements set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a group affiliated with the United Nations that sets aviation standards.

In a class of its own
The Haitian airport is the only one in the world that the U.S. agency has found not to meet international security standards, Kayser said. The U.S. agency only inspects airports with direct flights to the United States, he said.

But Kayser said U.S. officials are currently trying to help Haitian officials correct the airport’s deficiencies.

Although the U.S. agency said it had informed Haitian officials of its decision, Haitian government spokesman Mike Joseph said he knew nothing about it and declined to comment.

It’s unclear how the U.S. warning will affect Haiti, where political upheaval has deterred tourism for years.

Political upheaval, violence continues
More than 100 people have been killed in politically related violence in the capital since Sept. 30, when supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide stepped up demands for his return from South Africa and threatened Haitian police and U.N.  peacekeepers with violence.

Several provincial towns are still under control of the former soldiers who ousted Aristide in February and refuse to lay down their arms. The violence has overwhelmed Haiti’s ill-equipped police force and comes despite the presence of a 7,000-member U.N.  peacekeeping force.

In October, the U.S. State Department warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Haiti and urged Americans already in the country to leave. It also authorized nonessential U.S. Embassy personnel and family members of employees to leave.

On Wednesday, unknown assailants broke into the home of a U.S.  Embassy employee, shooting and seriously injuring a guard, an embassy official said on condition of anonymity. The embassy employee was not harmed and was moved to another location, the official said.

The official declined to comment on possible motives for the attack, saying only that U.N. and Haitian police were investigating. He said the U.S. Embassy did not implement new security measures for employees, who already have a 9 p.m. curfew and must get to work by shuttle bus.


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