HAITI: The UN Security Council was informed on Monday that Haiti is experiencing a “humanitarian crisis” as the nation reaches “new depths of desperation” following two weeks of violence and attacks on food supply facilities.
The nation’s food security has been shaken by weeks of violence and attacks on food aid depots, Helen La Lime said at an urgent UN Security Council meeting.
On September 11, all of Haiti experienced rioting and street violence in response to Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s announcement of an increase in fuel prices. As a result, among other things, WFP warehouses were looted.
Since then, Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital, has become the epicentre of increased protests and looting.
Ms. La Lime reported to the UN Security Council on Monday that several attacks on local UN Food Program warehouses resulted in the loss of around 2,000 tonnes of food aid, valued at close to $5 million (£4.6 million).
She stated that during the course of the following month, “that would have jointly supported up to 200,000 of the most vulnerable Haitians.”
The executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Valerie Guarnieri, who was present at the conference, stated: “The situation in Haiti has regrettably reached new levels of despair.”
40% of the population is dependent on food assistance to exist, and inflation has reached its highest point in ten years, according to her.
As 1.3 million people are currently experiencing a state of emergency owing to the situation, Ms. Guarnieri continued by predicting that food security will continue to deteriorate this year.
“Over the course of one week, WFP in Haiti lost one-third of our food inventories as two of our four warehouses were deliberately targeted, robbed, and pillaged,” Valerie Guarnieri said during the discussion.
Guarnieri added, “We estimate that at least six million dollars worth of relief materials were lost,” adding that other non-profit groups and UN agencies were also impacted by the theft.
Inciting fury in a country already dealing with record-high inflation, Haiti’s government this month decided to reduce fuel subsidies, citing their exorbitant cost.
Haiti faces ongoing gang violence
The root of Haiti’s issues are criminal gangs, and the ongoing gang warfare has claimed hundreds of lives and forced thousands to flee their homes.
A few days after that declaration, gangs obstructed the entrance to the Varreux fuel terminal by digging trenches and blocking the streets nearby with empty shipping containers. This prevented fuel delivery trucks from entering the facility.
Since several months ago, gangs have blocked roads leading from the nation’s capital to its rural regions, disrupting daily life and making it more difficult for relief organisations to provide food to the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
Helen La Lime, head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, remarked during the same session that “under such conditions, essential rights, from freedom of movement to education, are being horrifically destroyed.”
The UN Security Council was informed by Haiti’s Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus that, with the exception of a few “isolated occurrences,” the country’s violence was “largely under control” and that peace had returned to some areas of the island.
At the conference, Geneus requested “strong support” from the international community for Haiti so that the police could confront armed gangs.