Israeli, Jewish aid workers stay indoors amidst Haiti riots

Violent riots on the streets of Port-au-Prince and several other towns over claims of election fraud endanger those who've come to help.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
December 9, 2010 20:11
1 minute read.
Haiti Election Riots

Haiti Election Riots 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Israeli and Jewish aid workers in Haiti were under strict orders to stay in doors on Thursday after violent riots broke out on the streets of Port-au-Prince and several other towns the day before over claims of election fraud.

IsrAid workers in the town of Leogane, just west of the the capital, said things had quieted down on Thursday but that they weren't taking any chances.

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"Since yesterday morning things have been unstable in the city," Yuri Tsitrinbaum,  Head of IsraAID-Tevel Be'Tzedek Mission to Leoganne, wrote in an e-mail on Thursday. "All public facilities closed, barricades on the roads - burning tires, broken glass and stones. We have witnessed a demonstration that was very aggressive."

The violence erupted in several locations across the nation after supporters of a popular singer turned presidential candidate protested his exclusion from a runoff election claiming the vote was fixed against him. One man died and the airport was shut down.

Judy Amit, the global director of international development for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, spoke about the precautions taken to ensure the security of its staff and partners on the ground in the troubled Caribbean country. 

"Our Magen David Adom and Tel Hashomer Medical Center teams were given instructions to stay in the hotel where they are safe," she said. "The Israel trauma coalition team who we also work with got stuck in New York because there were no flights in or out of the country."



Looking ahead, Amit said she hoped the political situation would be resolved over Christmas.

"I understand there are new elections on January 15th," she said. "I imagine it might quieten down during the holiday as they are a deeply religious people."

Nonetheless, she said contingency plans were in place should the situation deteriorate and that her organization was following developments closely.
 

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