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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 April, 2005, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Fear and frustration in Haiti
By Claire Marshall
BBC News, Port-au-Prince

Haitian food line.
Haiti has been beset by political violence and flood damage
As a visit to Haiti by a delegation from the UN Security Council comes to an end, there is still much to be done to reassure Haitians that the country is prosperous and safe.

Around the corner from the presidential palace, the old commercial centre of Port-au-Prince is a jumbled collection of street stalls based around a shabby crossroads.

People try to sell anything they can here. Vendors display shoes hanging from nails hammered into walls. T-shirts are strung up under battered tarpaulins. Bottles of bootleg alcohol are arranged on the pavement.

Here, nearly a year after the UN mission began in Haiti, there is not much respect for what it has achieved.

Many people want their ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide back.

'Nothing done'

One woman clutching a pannier of mangoes says: "I am a mother and I have kids, and my kids are home. Why are they at home? Because I can't afford to send them to school.

"Since President Aristide left, there's no security and I think he's the person who can really help."

Another man, missing several teeth and his face smudged with dirt, says: "At least with President Aristide, at least I was able to eat, and I was able to move around. They have brought in this new government and I haven't seen anything it has done."

The town of St Marc is a bumpy drive north from the capital, with the azure Caribbean sea on the left and parched, desolate mountains on the right.

Here, there is an equal amount of frustration. Just over a year ago, before Jean Bertrand Aristide was forced to flee in to exile, dozens of people were killed by pro-Aristide militia groups.

On a dusty street not far from the decaying main square, people who survived the attack still vividly remember it.

Narcisse Marc Ariel speaks with a profound stammer, and has a nervous tick in the side of his face.

'No magic wand'

"I was assaulted, my mother's house was burned to the ground and my cousin was killed," he says. "I had to flee the area.

"I lost everything and am now having to have psychiatric treatment.

"We haven't been given any reparations. The people who did this are still free."

Jean-Hughes Narcisse is the head of a victims' association group. The faces of those who were killed stare down from the walls of his makeshift office.

"We have not found any justice. We know this is a transitional government so we don't expect a magic wand, but this government really has dragged its feet," he says.

"The insecurity is much worse."

The plan is to hold elections in October and November. However, the divisions in Haiti, which are responsible for so much violence, run deep.

The UN Security Council delegation, on its visit to Haiti, has experienced how volatile the country still is.

Between five and 10 people were killed in the slum of Cite Soleil after a peacekeeping mission encountered armed resistance.

As one group of wailing relatives stood over the body of their loved one, they cried: "Foreigners are killing us all the time".

It is a clear signal to the UN envoys that much needs to be done to stabilise this Caribbean nation before the polls can open.




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