Haiti (MNN) – Haiti is at a standstill as riots ( or ‘manifestations’) filled the streets this week. For Haiti With Love’s Eva Dehart explains, “It’s an accumulation, over the two years that this administration has been in, of no services. When you’re in a situation where the general feeling is ‘it’s just too expensive to live’, it has resulted in a depression that is country-wide, and manifesting itself in pure frustration in the streets.”
Often, when unrest breaks out, it stays roughly within the capital city, Port au Prince. This time, she says, “It’s countrywide. Our people are reporting that Haiti is on fire.”
Most of the demonstrations are planned and fairly peaceful. But this time, the stress level is boiling over. ”This has gone on far more than the normal ‘couple of days’. It is getting much more violent than normal. Unless they start getting a feeling that they’ve got someone’s attention to help them, I can only see it getting worse.“
Rioters want President Jovenel Moise to resign, and accuse him of corruption. So far, there’s been no response from Haiti’s president to the demands.
Under the current administration, the buying power of Haitian currency plummeted. Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and suffers from widespread hunger and discontent. Now, with devalued currency and rising food and fuel prices, living is too expensive for the average person, says DeHart.
“Food is all imported from the Dominican Republic now. The government isn’t providing any services. They’re taxing everything. They’re charging for things that they used to do for free.”
The streets are mainly empty as schools, shops and municipal offices remain closed for fear of more violence. DeHart ‘s daughter, Roseline, serves as Vice President in charge of Haiti operations, as well as ministry director, in Haiti. She says as the days drag on, “People are getting tired of everything being closed, of having their kids home all day – they want food, they want the kids back in school…” Eva notes that, “There are a couple of organizations that are European-based that are getting ready to set up a food distribution program to try to diffuse some of this.”
When asked how the blockades affected medical services, DeHart couldn’t say for sure in places like Port au Prince. However, to the north, in Cap Haitien, nothing gets past them. “They set up anything that they can get a hold of–tires, trash, whatever–on fire, so that they’ve got a fire wall that stops the traffic.” Since vehicle traffic can’t get through, the only way people can get to their burn clinic for medical attention is on foot.
Because the situation remains extremely fluid, it’s hard to predict how long Haiti will be in uproar, or how to direct visiting teams. For example, a team from
Wagner College’s Nursing program in New York planned a visit in March. DeHart says, “They called and asked Roseline what she thought they should do, and she said it was pretty much changing day by day, so she couldn’t say this far in advance, what they should do in March.”
Given the unrest and uncertainty, “They prayed about it and talked about it among themselves and let her know that they will hold off making a decision until the end of February to see if the country has quieted down. If so, they’ll definitely be down in March. If it’s still in an uproar, then they’ll cancel this year.”
Many ministries in Haiti are taking to social media to describe their concerns for their sponsored children, the impact on the school programs, the lack of resources, the longstanding impact on the communities and more. With protests and violence escalating over the last three days, DeHart urges us to joint prayer “…for safety, that all of them start praying. The people want the government’s attention. The ministries need to get God’s attention because God is the one who can get the government’s attention.”
Headline photo, Manifestations in Haiti, 2018, courtesy For Haiti With Love.