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Haiti's Dark Side

The well-dressed young man with the dark sunglasses seems utterly out of place. After all, this tent city - one of the many, massive, muddy communities that have sprung up all over Port-au-Prince - is one of the poorest places on earth. If you linger, or wander some more, you might notice another young man pop up. Then another, and another. Watching you. Discretely tapping messages on their cell phones. Possibly armed.

It's exactly what makes foreigners nervous, UN soldiers grip their guns, and aid workers run for safety. Just a few days ago, the U.S. embassy declared huge sections of this city no-go zones for its personnel. Overrun with gangs, too dangerous.

Officially, 9 people have been kidnapped in the past month, including two nurses from Doctors without Borders and a Brazilian businessman. Most were released after money exchanged hands.

Nine kidnappings in a month is actually low for this city.  This time last year, there were 13.  But it's disturbing, because immediately after the earthquake, there was an unusual lull. I remember Haitians saying they felt a sense of relief that they could move more freely after dark and go into parts of the city they never dared visit.

Not so any more.

When it comes to crime, Port-au-Prince is getting back to business as usual. And that, in fact, may be the biggest obstacle to so many lives getting back to business as usual, to getting the help they need.

Half a million people here still have no shelter, handouts of water, food and clothing are still desperately needed. And yet, aid agencies that deliver these precious commodities are restricting the movement of their workers, curfews are earlier and earlier, and security escorts are needed in many parts of the city - even for CBC reporters.

Follow Sasa's journey back to Haiti on Twitter @sasapetricic, #SasainHaiti