Boy killed in Haiti amid protest over delay in hurricane aid

LES CAYES, Haiti (AP) — A teenage boy was fatally shot in Haiti on Tuesday amid protests over delays in aid distribution after a Category 4 hurricane pummeled the Caribbean country last month. It is the second such death reported in the past week.

Journalists with The Associated Press saw protesters running through the streets of the southern coastal city of Les Cayes pushing a wooden cart with the boy’s body covered in a bloodstained white sheet.

“We want justice! We want justice!” they chanted as they gathered around the body.

Mayor Jean Gabriel Fortune said the boy was killed as police clashed with protesters when they tried to climb aboard a boat that had arrived from Puerto Rico days ago carrying supplies. Fortune said an investigation is underway as a crowd once again tried to break into the boat on Tuesday.

“Police are trying to ease the tension, but they are in a very difficult position,” he said, adding that the boat had docked at an old marine base where a Haitian anti-drug unit was operating.

Fortune said he was frustrated by what he called the inability and weakness of the central government of Port-au-Prince to act on aid streaming into Haiti after Hurricane Matthew hit the country’s southwest region nearly a month ago.

“We don’t even have the ability to move aid off a boat,” he said. “The food has been there for days.”

Most of the aid is flowing into Les Cayes and the coastal town of Jeremie.

The death angered hundreds of young men who paralyzed Haiti’s third largest city by setting up road blockades with burning tires, tree branches and downed utility lines.

“Nobody here is getting any food. That’s why this happens,” said Junior Pierre Luc, a computer repairman who had joined the protest.

A Haitian National Police spokesman reached by telephone did not immediately provide any specifics about the situation in Les Cayes.

A young woman died during a similar protest last week in the nearby village of Dame Marie that injured five other people when a fight broke out as authorities distributed food to hurricane victims. Looters apparently threw stones and conch shells at police and U.N. peacekeepers, who responded with tear gas and projectiles as a crowd gathered around a boat delivering supplies.

That death also is under investigation.

U.N. officials say that about 69 percent of households in the southwest region hit by the hurricane have inadequate food consumption. Overall, 2.1 million people have been affected, including nearly 900,000 children.

Roughly 141,500 people are still living in some 200 temporary shelters.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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