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The unrest in Haiti is compounding misery as residents face water shortages

Days of protests over fuel prices and crime have slowed or stopped water supplies in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

Thousands in Haiti faced water shortages after days of protests virtually halted distribution, eyewitnesses said on Saturday, as an approaching storm in the Caribbean country caused further concerns.

Many residents of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, were forced to take shelter at home this week as gunfire erupted and burning tires blocked the streets amid protests over gas price hikes and crime.

That slowed or stopped businesses that normally deliver water to the city, where daily highs have reached 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit).

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

Fears about the approach of Tropical Storm Fiona also fueled a rush to fetch water.

Forecasters said the storm’s heaviest rains would be more likely to hit the Dominican Republic, to the east of the island of Hispaniola.

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

“I live in Fort National, since there are blockades in the country, we came here to buy water. If these places didn’t exist, we would die of thirst,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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