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Street protests in Haiti strand Canadian missionaries, nurses

Feb. 16 (UPI) — Helicopters were being used to evacuate Canadian missionaries, nurses and visitors from towns in Haiti amid street protests.

They have been stranded for the past week because roads have been littered and cars set on fire. Demonstrators have called for President Jovenel Moise to resign over soaring inflation and corruption allegations but the leader said Thursday he “will not leave the country in the hands of armed gangs and drug traffickers.”

The 113 Quebec tourists staying at the Royal Decameron resort, about 50 northwest of Port-au-Prince, the capital, were transported by helicopter to the airport and then flown to Montreal, Premier François Legault said, according to CBC.

Also, all missioners have been evacuated via multiple helicopter trips from their compound in Grand Goave, about 31 miles from Port-au-Prince, according to a post on its Facebook page. They then flew to Miami.

Earlier they said they were unable to leave their compound.

“We have nowhere to go, roads are blocked, rioting all over the streets and businesses are being destroyed,” a man referred to as Marc says in a video posted on the group’s Facebook page. “We do have a team here and we have been trying to get them out and it has been totally impossible.”

Eight Canadian nurses have raised more than $ 17,000 through a GoFundMe page to charter a helicopter to take them to the airport Monday.

“Currently, we are stranded here because we are about an hour away from Port-au-Prince where the violent protest is and they have set up barriers on the roads to get to the airports,” according to a post on the GoFundMe site.

Tracy Hotta, one of the trapped nurses, told CNN they are safe inside.

“The director of the compound has instructed us not to go outside,” she said. “They’re very destitute down here. They have zero health care. … They’re taking desperate measures to try and make a change for themselves.”

The U.S. and Canadian governments have warned people not to travel to Haiti because of crime and civil unrest.

The Canadian government posted on Twitter that the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince is still operational and providing consular services. The security situation could further deteriorate quickly,” the government tweeted. “You should consider leaving by commercial means while they are available.”

On Thursday, U.S. State Department ordered all non-emergency U.S. personnel and their family members home.

Conditions were deteriorating in some places.

People stood in lines Saturday seeking water, gas and food in the Port-au-Prince neighborhoods of Nazon and Turgeau.

CNN couldn’t confirm the exact number of people killed in protests.

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