PORT-AU-PRINCE - Thousands of people across Haiti attended funerals on Wednesday for protesters who have died in ongoing demonstrations aimed at ousting President Jovenel Moise.
The funerals for 11 of at least 20 people killed were held in six cities, including the capital of Port-au-Prince, where sweat mingled with tears as mourners packed a church in the neighborhood of Delmas.
Some women shouted, rocked back and forth and fell to the floor as people yelled, "Down with Jovenel!" and "Jovenel has to go!" Tires burned in the street outside the church.
Among the mourners was 42-year-old Jean-Mary Daniel, who said the deaths won't halt the demonstrations that have shuttered many schools and businesses for nearly five weeks.
"A soldier died, but that doesn't mean you can destroy the army," he said.
Moise held a press conference on Tuesday and said it would be irresponsible for him to step down and he repeated calls for dialogue. However, opposition leaders have rejected those calls and said they will keep organizing demonstrations until Moise resigns.
The protests are fueled by anger over corruption, inflation that has reached 20 percent and dwindling of basic supplies, including gasoline. Sixty percent of the people in a country of nearly 11 million make less than $2 a day and 25% less than $1 a day.
The funerals were held a day after the U.N.'s Mission for Justice Support in Haiti ended its operations, marking the first time since 2004 that there is no peacekeeping operation in the country. U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the Security Council that progress since 2004 has been "considerable, but the achievements of stability are still fragile and must be deeper rooted in democracy and development."
He also said "the current context is not ideal for the end of 15 years of peacekeeping in the country," but he said the U.N. is not completely leaving Haiti.
U.N. military peacekeepers left Haiti on Oct. 15, 2017, after 13 years. But the stabilization mission stayed behind to train national police, help the government strengthen judicial and legal institutions, and monitor human rights.
On Wednesday, a U.N. political mission known as the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti officially replaced the stabilization mission.