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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
Paul Myers

Aid agencies in Haiti call for 120 million euros to feed starving population

School children run for cover while leaving school amid gang violence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti March 3, 2023. REUTERS - RALPH TEDY EROL

Aid agencies working in Haiti have called for 120 million euros over six months to tackle food shortages affecting nearly five million people.

Gang violence has reduced the ability of aid workers to distribute food and fuel throughout the country, said a report published by the World Food Program (WFP).

"We all know the situation remains fragile," said Jean-Martin Bauer, WFP’s Haiti director. "Earlier this month shooting prevented us from doing our important work in the capital. The fighting must stop but we also need the food to arrive and for that we need funds.

“We need around 120 million euros and our donors are simply not stepping up,” Bauer added.

“If funding doesn’t come through, the number of people facing hunger will be much worse. We can’t afford to let this food crisis fester at a time of political instability."

A UN report published on Tuesday, said 531 people have been shot dead and 277 kidnapped by gangs since January.

Gangs are expanding their control in the Artibonite Department, a vast central Haitian state where much of the country’s rice is grown.

Police officers take position as they take part in an anti-gang operation amid gang violence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti March 3, 2023. © RALPH TEDY EROL / REUTERS

Call for international help

The UN is calling for the deployment of international peacekeepers to restore order to Haiti.

It is understood the US president, Joe Biden, will urge the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, to oversee the mission during talks in Ottawa this weekend.

Last week Trudeau dismissed the idea of military intervention in Haiti and instead promoted the idea of police training and sanctions for those undercutting Haitian institutions.

"Outside intervention, as we've done in the past, hasn't worked to create long-term stability for Haiti," Trudeau told reporters.

"So we are now working closely with partners on the ground to enable the Haitian National Police and other institutions to stabilize the country in this very difficult time."

Doctors and nutritionists say the crisis is severely impacting the health of Haitian children who have limited access to nutritious food which stunts their development and which can lead to lifelong health issues.

“Gaining and retaining access to people in need across Haiti is a tightrope walk with WFP’s limited resources," said Bauer.

“Haiti can't wait – we cannot wait for the scale of the problem to be expressed in deaths before the world responds, but that is where we are heading.”

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