Keep the global spotlight on Haiti as millions go hungry, says WFP official – Global Issues


“We now have five million people in Haiti who are acutely food insecure, 1.6 million of whom are classified as facing food insecurity emergencies,” said WFP Country director Jean-Martin Bauer addresses journalists via video link at the UN headquarters in New York.

These are the highest figures ever recorded. These are the highest numbers we have had since the 2010 earthquake,” he added.

Feeding displaced people

Mr Bauer’s briefing came just hours after the WFP and its sister agency to the UN, the Food and Agriculture Organization,FAO) published their latest report hunger hotspotscalling for action to save lives and prevent famine in 18 places including Gaza, Sudan and Haiti.

He spoke from a community kitchen in Port-au-Prince, managed by WFP and a local partner, which prepares thousands of hot meals for people displaced by the rampant gang violence and resulting insecurity and human rights abuses that have rocked the city. and brought rudder. recent years.

The UN Security Council has authorized the deployment of a multinational security support mission in support of the Haitian National Police, which is still in the planning stages.

Airport closed

The situation in the Caribbean country deteriorated in early March after gangs tightened their grip on the capital, carrying out coordinated attacks on police stations and other key state institutions, and releasing thousands of prisoners in prison. Flights were grounded and the Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, resigned.

In response to questions from journalists, Mr. Bauer said this safety is the “number one priority” faces violence that makes it dangerous for people, including its staff, to even take their children to school, go grocery shopping or go to church.

The violence has forced more than 360,000 Haitians to flee their homes. More than 100,000 people left Port-au-Prince in March alonehe said, citing data from the UN migration agency IOM.

Mr Bauer said this “exodus” from the capital is mainly affecting the south of the country, where infrastructure is limited, exacerbating the food crisis.

Although a new prime minister has been appointed, the period since then has been “quite violent and quite unsettled,” he added.

“The country is blocked. The main ports for containers, the airport, were not operational for months. They have slowly started functioning again,” he said.

A million meals

Humanitarians have been doing their best to respond to the crisis, and the hot meals program is just one example of their efforts, he said. In total, WFP and its partners have helped more than 100,000 people and provided more than a million hot meals since the start of the year.

“Right now we have been able to use the shares we placed in Port-au-Prince before the crisis, but they are almost gone,” he said.

With the recent reopening of the port, he expressed optimism that more raw materials will flow into the country to support humanitarian activities.

A WFP-chartered cargo plane is unloaded of its 15 tons of much-needed medical supplies at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

© WFP/Luc Junior Segur

A WFP-chartered cargo plane is unloaded of its 15 tons of much-needed medical supplies at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Help has flown in

He also pointed to good news. Last week, a WFP cargo flight transported 15 tons of essential medical supplies to Port-au-Prince airport for the first time in months.

The items were for partners such as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) which they took to local hospitals and clinics. More flights will be taking to the skies soon.

Other “breakthroughs” saw the WFP reach the Cité-Soleil district and provide rations to some 93,000 people in May. WFP also operates a ferry service that connects Port-au-Prince with northern and southern Haiti, bringing food and medical supplies to areas isolated from humanitarian supply chains.

Take note Haiti

“But There is still a sense of crisis” said Mr. Bauer.

This month marks the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which will be “very active” this year. Food prices in the capital have also risen by almost 30 percent since January, dealing another blow to the population.

He urged the international community to step up and support Haiti as a $674 million humanitarian response plan launched in February is only about 22 percent funded. The WFP also needs $76 million to continue its lifesaving work in the country.

“We must continue to put Haiti in the spotlight,” he said. “We know that in some parts of the world there is just not enough attention on Haiti, because we look at other crises, we look elsewhere, but the crisis in Haiti is here, it is now and it deserves a response.”

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