Kelowna woman one step closer to fleeing political unrest in Haiti
Kelowna’s Laura Allan has done aid work in Haiti on and off for 12 years, but this is the first time the Okanagan woman said she’s felt unsafe.
“I am looking forward to getting home,” Allan told Global News over the phone Monday morning.
Allan arrived in Haiti on Dec. 12 and had been planning to stay there until the end of April doing volunteer work with her organization called Shelters International Disaster Response.
“I’ve been back working with farmers and diversifying crops for the past few years,” she said.
But her latest volunteer stint is being cut short because of major political unrest that has gripped the country with violent protests in an effort to oust Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
“My whole neighbourhood is in lockdown,” she said. “There’s paid groups that wreak havoc, light fires, start barricades. … You just don’t go on the streets. If you are not marching with them, you are against them.”
With violence right across the country, the only safe way Allan can get from her current location in the town of Jacmel to the main airport in Port-au-Prince 90 kilometres away is by air.
“There’s only a few planes and couple choppers so you can imagine there’s quite a bit of wait list,” she said.
In addition to the wait, getting to the airport is also proving expensive as those fleeing are having to foot their own bill.
The good news for Allan is that a GoFund me campaign, started by a friend, has now reached its $4,000 goal.
It means that as soon as the money makes its way into Allan’s account, she’ll be able to book a helicopter out.
Global News contacted Global Affairs to ask how many more Canadians remain in Haiti and what, if any, evacuation plans are in place.
An email response only said the following:
- Consular officials remain in close contact with affected Canadians and have provided consular assistance and advice as required.
- Most Canadians who sought assistance in leaving have departed Haiti.
- Due to the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed at this time.
Meanwhile, Allan is anxiously awaiting her return back to the Okanagan.
Despite the experience, she plans to return to Haiti once the situation settles down.
“I want to see people live,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the people.”
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