MONTREAL — A Canadian couple who had to leave Haiti due to violent street protests say they’re happy to be heading home but that their hearts are with the people they left behind.
Wade and Marilyn Fitzpatrick are two of 24 missionaries from Alberta-based Haiti Arise who were flown out of Port-au-Prince late Saturday.
In an interview, the Weyburn, Sask.-based couple said the group had to be taken to the airport by helicopter because the roads were blocked by burning tires and protesters armed with rocks and guns.
They said they’re thankful to be safe, but worried about the Haitians who risk dying from a lack of food and water if the roads don’t reopen soon.
“It’s running out, everything is running out,” Wade Fitzpatrick said Sunday morning from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“There’s nothing moving on the national highways, so water and food and all those things are just disappearing.”
Protesters have taken to the streets to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, spurred by anger about skyrocketing inflation and the government’s failure to prosecute embezzlement from a multi-billion-dollar Venezuelan program that sent discounted oil to Haiti.
The Fitzpatricks, who have lived in Haiti on and off for the last several years, said they’ve witnessed similar protests in the past, and made sure to stay away.
“If you got close enough to witness it, you’re in quite a bit of trouble,” Wade Fitzpatrick said.
The Caribbean nation has been devastated in recent years by a massive 2010 earthquake and by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
But Wade Fitzpatrick said this setback feels different because it’s man-made.
“In a natural disaster, the country comes together, but in this particular spot the country is broken up, and there isn’t the same pulling together to make things better,” he said.
The Canadians trapped in Haiti have included missionaries, medical personnel, tourists and students. Many have been slowly making their way to the airport via helicopter or, in some cases, dangerous road journeys.
Some 113 Quebec tourists who had been trapped at a Haitian resort by the protests were also evacuated to the airport by helicopter and were flown to Montreal last night on a chartered commercial flight.