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Haitian bishops voice fears as island spirals into chaos

Haiti's Catholic bishops' have described the worsening situation in the country as a 'nightmare', according to a report received by the charity Aid to the Church in Need.

Archbishop Hubert Constant of Cap Haitian and President of the Haitian Catholic Bishops' Conference said the number of casualties since the riots broke out on 10 February are mounting, with the worst-hit region, Port-au-Prince, still reporting summary executions, looting and arson.

Archbishop Constant said: "It is difficult to estimate the number of people killed. Some have suggested that about one hundred have died.

"So far there has been around one billion dollars worth of material damage. Our already poverty-stricken country will now have to recover from a double shock. It is a disaster."

In the North, around Cap Haitian, twelve people have so far died in riots and public buildings have been plundered and burnt. In the North East, particularly around Fort-Liberté, similar violence has created a climate of fear. In other cities, groups of self-proclaimed 'soldiers' are spreading terror. It is a nightmare."

The Archbishop added that at this time of Lent, Haiti's suffering in many ways resembled Christ's suffering.

He said: "It is but in faith indeed, that many people can bear this extreme evil and tragedy: violence, hatred, death…In Christ alone our hope remains."

Aid to the Church in Need has worked closely with the Catholic Church in Haiti since 1970, providing both financial and practical support for the Haitian community, 80% of whom are Catholic.

Haitian bishops voice fears as island spirals into chaos (Aid to the Church in Need 8/3/04)
Archbishop calls state of nation "nightmare" and "disaster" (Aid to the Church in Need 8/3/04)

Haiti Situation a "Nightmare," Says Archbishop (Zenit 8/3/04)
A car for the auxiliary bishop of Port-au-Prince (Aid to the Church in Need 8/3/04)
Haitians Urged to Do What They Must (Zenit 29/2/04)
Haiti: chaos as president flees country (Independent Catholic News 1/3/04)
Pope encourages diplomacy, humanitarian aid for Haiti (Vatican Information Service 29/2/04)

10 Mar 2004