Political unrest in Haiti leaves Alabama church group stranded

Russellville First Baptist Church_Haiti
[Photo Credit: Russellville, Alabama First Baptist Church Facebook page]

Volunteer groups from several American states have found themselves stranded in Haiti due to protests and political unrest on the small Caribbean island.

Among those volunteers is a a team of 14 students and adults from First Baptist Church in Russellville, Ala.

The church group found itself grounded after protesters took to the streets following a fuel price hike ordered by the government, which led to flights in the country being cancelled on Saturday and Sunday.

CNN reported that a State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs official told American tourists and missions groups “do not attempt to travel at this time. Avoid protests and any large gathering of people. Do not attempt to drive through roadblocks.”

Islanders, angered over their government’s attempts to raise fuel prices burned, looted and vandalized Haiti’s capital city Port-Au-Prince from Friday to Sunday. According to the Washington Post “several hundred people on Saturday attack a Best Western Premiere hotel in Petion-Ville, one of the capital’s wealthiest neighborhoods. Guests were forced to remain inside as rocks were hurled through windows around 10 a.m. local time. Security manned the building, but rioters shattered the main entrance before moving to another hotel.”

Russellville First Baptist Church_volunteering in Haiti
[Photo Credit: Russellville, Alabama First Baptist Church Facebook page]

But the Russellville group remains safe for now. They are currently scheduled to leave the island on Tuesday.

“We have no reason to compromise our relative safety here at the guest house unless we’re certain we can get out of PAP,” the leader of the group posted on Facebook. “We are also working on alternative options, should the Tuesday flight not work for us. I’ll share those alternatives with you when they become more concrete.”

You can follow the group’s progress here.