Tourists vacationing in Jamaica have been warned to stay on their resorts after a recent spell of violence in Montego Bay.
St. James Parish, which includes the popular vacation destination, has seen an uptick in violent crime lately, leading authorities to declare a state of emergency, impose a temporary curfew and increase military presence in the area. Major General Rocky Meade, Jamaica’s chief of defense staff, said the soldiers are targeting gang members, with a “particular focus on those that are responsible for murders, lotto scamming, trafficking of arms and guns and extortion,” Newsweek reports.
In response to the situation, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office posted a travel advisory urging tourists in the area to “limit your movements outside of resorts in the area at this time, and exercise particular care if travelling at night.”
The Canadian government issued a similar warning, telling citizens to use a “high degree of caution” given the “high level of crime and the state of emergency in St James Parish.”
The U.S. Department of State has not updated its travel advisory for Jamaica since Jan. 10. Even still, the advisory warns travelers to use “increased caution” due to crime in Montego Bay, Kingston and Spanish Town.
Though the situation in St. James Parish has reached a critical point, crime is a persistent problem in Jamaica. In 2016, for example, the country of 2.9 million people saw 1,350 murders, 1,216 shootings, 449 aggravated assaults and 480 rapes, according to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security. The country is also notorious for “entrenched and widespread” corruption.
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