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Haiti unrest worsens misery as residents suffer water shortage

PORT AU PRINCE — Thousands in Haiti faced water shortages after days of protest virtually halted distribution, eyewitnesses said on Saturday, as an approaching storm caused more worry in the reeling country.

Many residents of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince have been forced to shelter at home this week as gunfire broke out and burning tires blocked streets during protests of fuel price hikes and crime.

That slowed or halted companies that typically deliver water in the city where daily highs have been hitting 34 degrees centigrade (93 degrees Fahrenheit).

Many took advantage of an expected half day truce to rush to distribution centers to stockpile a few days’ supply of water and cooking gas, which has also run short in many places.

Fears about the approach of tropical storm Fiona also fueled the rush to get water. Forecasters said the storm’s heaviest rains were more likely to hit the Dominican Republic on the east of Hispaniola island.

Jean-Denis Sévère, a resident of Fort National, said many had to travel miles to fill buckets and bottles, then lug them back home.

“I live in Fort National, since there are blockades in the country, we came here to buy water. If it was not for these places, we would die from thirst,” he said.

The country’s latest unrest came as inflation surged to its highest in a decade and gang violence has left hundreds dead and thousands displaced, with much of Haiti’s territory beyond government reach.

Richardson Adrien, a Port-au-Prince resident, told Reuters the lack of potable water was just the latest headache. Residents in recent months have also struggled to find fuel, leaving some unable to work.

Finding clear water “is a problem. We look for it everywhere and we can’t find it. We put Clorox in the water to be able to drink it, you can’t find water,” he said.

The Haitian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. — Reuters

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