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Concern growing for Quebecers in Haiti as violent protests continue

Click to play video: 'Concern growing for Quebecers in Haiti as violent protests continue' Concern growing for Quebecers in Haiti as violent protests continue
WATCH: Montreal families with relatives in Haiti are expressing concern about their loved ones who have been stranded on the island over the last after violent protests erupted. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, one Montrealer volunteering in Haiti fears things could get worse – Feb 15, 2019

The last thing Katherine O’Neil expected to do was to ration food, fuel and water while working in Haiti.

She’s a Montreal nurse who is volunteering in the country providing medical aid.  Seven others from Nova Scotia and Ontario, are there with her, working with Hope Grows, a charity organization based in Peterborough, Ontario.

“Their goal was to go down and then they do special clinics because of their special skills,” explains  Tim Rodin, a member of the organization who has worked in Haiti as a team leader.

READ MORE: Quebecers trapped in Haiti as violent protests continue

O’Neill was scheduled to return to Montreal two days ago.  But she and the others couldn’t get to the airport.

“They have roadblocks in place,” she told Global News from Haiti.  “They are burning tires at some of those barricades, people have been killed.”

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They are in Petit Paradis, more than an hour north of Port-au-Prince, which she says is peaceful — so far.

Just over a week ago protesters began demanding the resignation of president Jovenel Moïse.

READ MORE: Canadian travel alert for Haiti raised as violent protests rage on

They are angry about ballooning inflation, and blame the government for failure to prosecute those suspected of corruption.

Friday morning Global Affairs Canada recommended Canadians avoid all travel to the country.  The Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince closed because of the unrest and Global Affairs is advising Canadians not to travel within the country either.

“They just basically instructed my mother to stay where she is where it’s currently safe,” says O’Neil’s son Matthew O’Neil.  He and others in the family aren’t satisfied that Global Affairs hasn’t been more helpful.

“They advised my mother to watch the news which is kind of a luxury where she is right now,” he said.

WATCHProtests in Haiti turn deadly

Click to play video: 'Protests in Haiti turn deadly' Protests in Haiti turn deadly
Protests in Haiti turn deadly – Feb 14, 2019

O’Neil agrees that the Canadian government should do more, and try to help them find a safe passage to the airport, because she fears things will only get worse.

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“If the cell towers run out of fuel we will have no communication,” she stressed.

Fuel and other supplies are running low and they’re rationing their food.

“We have mangoes, lots of mangoes growing from trees,” she joked, but says that and bananas aren’t enough.

Other Quebecers are also stranded, but one group of tourists might have found a way home.

READ MORE: Peterborough couple rationing supplies at Hope Grows Haiti charity amid civil unrest

Quebec Premier François Legault said he spoke with Canadian ambassador to Haiti André Frenette who told him the group is safe at a hotel with a private security firm.

“Air Transat is looking at bringing three helicopters of 20 places that will bring those passengers to the airport,” Legault said, adding that he’s worried about other Quebecers but that he’s in contact with the federal government, and hopes the unrest ends as soon as possible.

O’Neil and her group, however, are trying to find their own way.

READ MORE: GoFundMe to helicopter stranded Canadian nurses to Haiti airport beats goal by over $7,000

They’ve booked a flight that leaves Haiti on Monday, so they’re trying to rent a helicopter to take them to the airport, past the burning barricades.

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That’s if they can find one they can afford.

They have started a GoFundMe page to raise the money to rent one, if necessary.

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