Alberta missionaries trapped inside compound amid Haiti riots

A group of missionaries from Western Canada on a trip to Grande Guove — about 65 km west of the capital city Port-au-Prince — are safe but trapped as they cannot reach the airport to fly out.

Roads to Port-au-Prince airport are blocked by riots

Demonstrators run away from police who are shooting in their direction, as a car burns during a protest demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Tuesday. (Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press)

Two dozen missionaries from southern Alberta are stranded at a compound in Haiti due to violent street demonstrations that have been ongoing for a week.

"The roads are blocked, tires are burning, there are boulders on the road and people are blocking the highway," James Roberts with the charity Haiti Arise, told CBC Calgary.

"So nobody can move, and the streets in Port-au-Prince are getting a little dangerous because of all the unrest and rioting."

Roberts says about 24 people from southern Alberta on a mission in Grand Guove — just west of the Haitian capital Port-Au-Prince — were planning to come home Wednesday. They're safe, but can't get into the city or the airport because of the unrest.

Volunteers with Haiti Arise Ministries helped with cleanup efforts and rebuilding destroyed homes after Hurricane Matthew. Now, about two dozen people from Alberta are trapped by rioting in Haiti.

Our people out in Grande Guove, which is west of  Port-au-Prince are safe," said Roberts. "They're fine, they're on our campus. We have security, we have a lot of people, so they're safe. They just can't get anywhere."

Grande Guove about 65 km west of Port-au-Prince. 

Roberts says the concern now is whether the workers have enough food and other staples.

"The storehouses, the food depots are now closed, so accessing the basic necessities and staples is going to be increasingly difficult," he said. "Diesel is scarce if you can get it at all."

Roberts said the lack of fuel could be important, both for vehicles and in order to have working generators. 

"Now we're basically getting into shutdown mode of just making sure that we have everything as long as we need it, however long that is going to be. We don't know."

Roberts says the workers are heartbroken to see the nation they've been working to help is rioting and getting torn apart once again.

Haiti is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. It remains one of the world's poorest nations, with more than six million of its 10.5 million citizens living on less than $3.15 a day. Protesters are angry about skyrocketing inflation and the government's failure to do anything about an embezzlement from a multi-billion Venezuelan program that sent discounted oil to Haiti.

On Tuesday, Global Affairs Canada issued an advisory warning against all non-essential travel to the country. On Thursday, it advised against all travel. 

The Canadian Embassy in Haiti was closed on Wednesday due to the unrest.


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