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Across Haiti, fuel shortages and power outages are bringing life to a standstill

#Haiti #fuel #shortages #power #outages #bringing #life #standstill

While gang violence plagues the Haitian capital, other cities on the island nation face another major problem: shortages of fuel and electricity threaten the daily lives of millions.

In addition to their deadly fighting in Port-au-Prince, where at least 234 people have been killed or injured in the Cite Soleil neighborhood since early July, Haitian gangs have also hampered activities at the country’s three main oil terminals.

Armed groups regularly block access to the facilities, halting the flow of fuel into the country.

In Jeremie, a coastal town on the southwestern tip of the island, gas stations have been running out of fuel for months.

Residents are being forced to turn to the black market, where petrol and diesel are readily available – but at prices six times higher than government-set prices.

“Gas is available everywhere except at gas stations,” says law professor Yvon Janvier.

With legal fuel scarce and skyrocketing black market prices, Jeremie’s least affluent residents are forced to travel on foot.

The vast majority of Haiti’s energy is produced by diesel power plants, so “it’s very simple: no fuel, no electricity,” says Janvier.

– A paved road –

Jose Davilmar, administrative director of the country’s public electric utility company (EDH), says there are “tremendous difficulties in getting fuel into certain provincial towns.”

“Recently, three boats loaded with fuel were unable to dock due to retaliation by bandits in Cite Soleil.”

With control of just two short kilometers (1.2 miles) of the national highway in Martissant, a poor Port-au-Prince suburb, gangs have gained control of the flow of goods halfway across the country.

Armed groups have had complete control of the only paved road leading to Haiti’s southern regions since June 2021.

– Reduced hospital performance –

Without electricity from power plants, entire regions of the country have to switch to gas-powered generators to keep the lights going.

For those who cannot afford their own generator, everyday life has become a problem.

In Jacmel on Haiti’s south coast, painter Joseph Stevenson has to ask his neighbors who has electricity every time he needs to charge his phone.

“Sometimes I have to drive downtown to get just a few percent of a charge,” says the artist.

“Can you imagine that in the 21st century?”

In Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, bars and restaurants equipped with generators have been able to remain open but have reduced hours due to soaring gas prices.

The northern city’s mayor, Patrick Almonor, warns that the power outages have had a significant impact on medical facilities.

“Hospitals are operating more slowly with reduced services because it’s been almost six months since the EDH powered the city,” says Almonor.

– prices doubled –

In Les Cayes, the third largest city, some health centers are only open a few hours a day, says doctor Kinsky Hippolyte.

The situation is mainly due to a lack of electricity, but also to problems transporting equipment and medicines from the capital, 200 kilometers to the north.

Like everywhere else in Haiti, the southern peninsula is suffering from sky-high inflation. But while prices have risen more than 25 percent nationwide, some groceries in the Southwest region have doubled in price since the beginning of the year.

“Even the prices of local products are rising: farmers, for example, are selling their lemons more expensively in order to be able to buy rice, which is imported,” says Hippolyte.

The doctor, who considers himself fortunate compared to the poorest in the country, is nevertheless forced “to limit (his) trips because of the price of petrol”.

Haiti’s rising poverty rate, compounded by social instability, is a major concern for the humanitarian community: nearly half of the country’s 11 million citizens are already at risk of food insecurity, including 1.3 million who are on the brink of starvation, according to the World Food Program.

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#Haiti #fuel #shortages #power #outages #bringing #life #standstill

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