There is no time to waste as the potential of famine in Haiti grows, warns the UN emergency food relief organization

Date:

There is no time to waste as the potential of famine in Haiti grows

  • news by AUN News correspondent
  • Sunday, December 11, 2022
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • It’s hard to imagine that 4.7 million people, or half of Haiti’s population, are suffering from a food crisis just two hours by plane from Miami.

  • In light of this, over 1 million Haitians have received food aid from WFP and its allies this year, including over 100,000 since the lockdown.

  • Air travel is the only secure means of entering and leaving Port-au-Prince.

  • But a shift in strategy is required for humanitarian efforts in Haiti.

  • The peyi lok must halt for Haiti’s food systems to begin to be rebuilt.

Bauer says that Haiti is going through something that has never happened before and could get worse. He claims that there is no time to squander because of this.

It’s hard to imagine that 4.7 million people, or half of Haiti’s population, are suffering from a food crisis just two hours by plane from Miami. On a global scale used to measure food insecurity, 19,000 individuals in Port-au-Prince’s Soleil district are experiencing conditions that qualify as “catastrophes.”

My mother escaped to the US in the 1960s, and I was raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC. In the 1980s, I used to travel to Haiti with my family. Even though the nation was extremely underdeveloped, it could feed itself. When I’m in charge of the World Food Program’s response and see it suffer, I can’t help but feel sad.

I can speak Creole. I grew up eating joumou soup and djon djon rice. I’ve always been very aware of the lengthy history of Haiti.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital.
Borja Lopetegui Gonzalez for UNDP Haiti

“A string of catastrophes”

People risked their lives to escape aboard boats during the 1990s coups and trade blockade. Free market policies in Haiti destroyed small farmers and made the country more and more dependent on food imports. After that, a number of bad things happened, like the cholera outbreak and earthquake in 2010, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and the Southern earthquake in 2021.

At this time, everything is beyond repair. This issue requires fresh and effective humanitarian aid in order to survive.

I am frequently asked why the situation is so bad so close to my family’s adopted home. I respond that because criminals have taken over the ports and roadways, Haiti is going hungry. Communities were cut off as a result of both the crops that provided them with food and critical humanitarian relief. Prices for food and fuel have soared in the last 12 months.

People are protesting on the streets of Port-au-Prince in crisis-torn Haiti.U.S. CDC, Roger LeMoyne, and UNICEF

A nation that is at a standstill

Protests and rampant looting broke out in September. Roadblocks caused the nation to come to a stop, or “peyi lok,” as it is known in Haiti (lockdown). The peyi lok that began on September 12 resembled those that happened during the early COVID pandemic in many ways, with the exception that this time, fear and violence compelled people to stay indoors rather than a dangerous illness.

The primary gasoline import facility had been taken over by armed gangs, which had stopped the supply of diesel, which powers the economy. Attacks on humanitarian organizations also occurred; two WFP warehouses were plundered, depriving thousands of people of vital food aid. The WFP personnel had to overcome obstacles and dangers to get to the office.

Panic buying began during the Peyi Lok. As time passed, supermarket shelves became thinner. Recently, I came across a group of women in Cité Soleil while they waited for the WFP to provide much-needed food. They claimed it was difficult to get a job and that they couldn’t afford to buy the food they needed. They claimed to be consuming rainwater. There are times when they boil water and add salt for dinner since there is nothing else to eat. Shots rang out and bullets soared over us as we were conversing. Sadly, the people of Haiti have become accustomed to conflict and malnutrition.

In light of this, over 1 million Haitians have received food aid from WFP and its allies this year, including over 100,000 since the lockdown. Air travel is the only secure means of entering and leaving Port-au-Prince. The UN Humanitarian Air Service, which is run by the WFP, has helped move supplies that are needed to fight cholera. Emergency food supplies and airlifts will keep people alive, but they won’t provide them with a future.

Even though armed groups have lost control of the Varrreux oil terminal, they still run a lot of the city. They must loosen their grip on Haitian society. Sanctions imposed by the UN on those who support them are a positive development. But a shift in strategy is required for humanitarian efforts in Haiti.

WFP's Rose Senoviala Desir meets farmers in the north of Haiti.WFP/Theresa Piorr in Haiti

Feeding the people of Haiti

We must, above all, assist Haitian farmers in feeding their own people. 75 farmer cooperatives and the WFP are collaborating to give schoolchildren lunch.

Thanks to this program, 100,000 students receive a school lunch made using locally sourced ingredients on any given school day. However, social instability is keeping farmers from markets and kids from schools. The peyi lok must come to an end in order for Haiti’s food systems to be rebuilt.

What Haiti is going through right now is not just a brief period of unrest that will pass as part of some predictable cycle to which the world has grown accustomed. Haiti is going through a disaster on a scale that has never been seen before, and things will only get worse if everyone doesn’t act quickly and urgently.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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