SOURCE: CMC: Two United Nations agencies have warned of “catastrophic” hunger being recorded in Haiti for the primary time.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said that “an unrelenting series of crises has trapped vulnerable Haitians in a cycle of growing desperation, without access to food, fuel, markets, jobs and public services”.
The agencies said that hunger has reached a “catastrophic level” – the best level, 5, on the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification index, or IPC – within the capital’s Cité Soleil neighbourhood.
Based on the newest IPC evaluation, a record 4.7 million individuals are currently facing acute hunger (IPC 3 and above), including 1.8 million people in Emergency phase (IPC 4) and, for the primary time ever in Haiti, 19,000 individuals are within the catastrophe phase, phase 5.
FAO and WFP said that, currently, 65 per cent of Cité Soleil’s population, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, are in high levels of food insecurity, with five per cent of them in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
“Increased violence, with armed groups vying for control of the vast and now lawless area of Port-au-Prince, has meant that residents have lost access to their work, markets and health and nutrition services,” the agencies said, “Many have been forced to flee or simply hide indoors.”
FAO and WFP said food security has also continued to deteriorate in rural areas in Haiti, with several going from crisis to emergency levels.
Harvest losses as a consequence of below- average rainfall and the 2021 earthquake that devastated parts of the Grand Anse. Nippes and Sud departments are among the many other devastating aspects, beyond the political and economic crisis, FAO and WFP said.
“WFP stands with the people of Haiti, serving the vulnerable and helping the poorest,” said Jean-Martin Bauer, WFP Country Director in Haiti. “We’re here to make sure schoolchildren get a nutritious meal every day, families meet their basic food needs and communities are empowered.”
“This can be a time of tumult in Haiti,” he added, “But there may be a way forward. All of us must be steadfast, and give attention to delivering urgent humanitarian assistance and supporting long-term development.”
José Luis Fernández Filgueiras, FAO representative in Haiti, said, “We’d like to assist Haitians produce higher, more nutritious food to safeguard their livelihoods and their futures, especially within the context of a worsening food crisis.”
“Resource mobilization efforts have to be scaled up with a purpose to strengthen the resilience of households targeted by emergency food assistance to extend their self-reliance,” he added.
The UN said that, for years, natural hazards and political turmoil have taken a toll on Haitians who were already in need in each rural and concrete areas.
“The onset of the worldwide food crisis, with rising food and fuel prices, has led to growing civil unrest that has plunged Haiti into chaos, completely paralysing economic activities and transport,” the UN said. “The essential food basket is out of reach for a lot of Haitians. Inflation stands at a staggering 33 per cent, and the fee of petrol has doubled.”
Despite the volatile security situation within the capital, Port-au-Prince, WFP said it provided greater than 100,000 individuals with emergency assistance within the metropolitan area in 2022.
WFP said its focus stays on strengthening national social protection and food systems which can be central to the country’s recovery efforts and long-term development.
Over the following six months, WFP said it requires US$105 million for crisis response, and to tackle root causes and bolster the resilience of Haitians.
The FAO said it has been providing emergency livelihoods support to small-scale vulnerable farming households.
Through the autumn agricultural season starting this month, FAO said it goals to succeed in near 70,000 individuals with money for work, food crop production assistance, goat and poultry breeding assistance, and food storage and processing support for college feeding programmes.
FAO said it urgently requires some US$33 million to help greater than 470,000 of essentially the most vulnerable people.
While the agencies proceed operating in Haiti as the safety situation allows, the UN said increased insecurity, violence and lack of fuel are hampering humanitarian operations, “that are critical for essentially the most vulnerable Haitians”.
As well as, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that just about 100,000 children under the age of 5, who’re already affected by severe acute malnutrition – also referred to as severe wasting – are especially vulnerable to the continuing cholera outbreak affecting Haiti.
UNICEF said that, at a time when much of the French-speaking Caribbean country is facing growing food insecurity, “acutely malnourished children have weakened immune systems, and so they are at the very least 3 times more more likely to die in the event that they contract cholera, further reinforcing the necessity for urgent motion to contain the disease”.
Since cholera was first reported on October 2, 2022, UNICEF said there have been 357 suspected cases, with greater than half of those in children under 14. (CMC)