January 26, 2024

Adventist University in Haiti Closes Temporarily after Incident with Armed Men

Students were sent home, and faculty and staff have been told to stay off the campus.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News
The Adventist University of Haiti is temporarily closed after a group of armed men entered the campus on January 23. [Photo: Adventist University of Haiti]

Administrators of Adventist University of Haiti (UNAH) in Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, closed academic operations after a group of armed men entered the campus on January 23. The incident took place at 2:00 p.m. and lasted about 30 minutes. University officials reported that no one was harmed. Authorities have not stated why the group of men entered the campus.

UHAH president Sénèque Edmond was on campus at the time of the incident. Days before, he had notified students and faculty that no classes would be held during the week due to the escalating violence in the region. The university is keeping certain services running with essential personnel.

“We would like to sincerely thank our entire community for the prayers and expressions of sympathy shown during these times,” Edmond said. “Your support and solidarity have been a source of strength and comfort.”

The university has dismissed dormitory students back to their homes and has also told faculty and staff to stay off the campus. UNAH has 619 registered students and 175 professors distributed between its bachelor’s and master’s programs.

In addition to a primary and secondary school with more than 1,500 students and 122 teachers, the campus is home to a bakery, an Inter-American Division Publishing House (IADPA) bookstore, a radio station, Hope Media Center, a block factory, a printing press, a drinking water treatment center, and university classrooms and dorm facilities, among others.

Church services and activities on campus are suspended for the weekend, Edgard Etienne, pastor of the campus church, said. He shared that church members in the surrounding communities and throughout the country have been praying for the situation. “We have urged our members to exercise caution and practice their faith in safer places closer to home,” Etienne said.

The economic crisis and civil unrest in Haiti have kept church leaders and members on high alert and on their knees, church leaders said.

Pierre Caporal, president of the Haitian Union Mission of the Adventist Church, who chairs UNAH’s board, said he is thankful that God blesses the church in Haiti, but he is concerned about students who cannot attend classes. “I am concerned about the operation of the university and other institutions on campus so we keep praying that God will act accordingly to His will to change this atmosphere,” Caporal said.

For months, Adventist churches across Haiti have had to adjust their services to morning or early afternoon to allow members to be home before dark. “At least 15 churches have been closed and more than 3,500 church members have been displaced,” Caporal reported. “In the midst of all the challenges the church in Haiti is facing, the members try to find new ways to preach the gospel. They are convinced that the time has come where the gospel should be preached to everyone as it is written in Revelation 14:6-12,” he added.

The Adventist hospital and ADRA Haiti offices near the university campus continue to operate with the proper precautions, Caporal said.

The Haitian Union Mission has a membership of more than 500,000 Seventh-day Adventists and oversees 1,330 churches and congregations organized under one conference and four mission territories. The union operates the hospital, university, and dozens of primary and secondary schools.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.