UN says food aid reaching violence-wracked Haiti

The United Nations on Wednesday said its agencies are reaching Haitians in the besieged capital of Port-au-Prince and other areas amid ongoing gang violence that continues to ravage the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state.

In providing an update of the situation in Haiti, UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq told journalists that the World Food Programme (WFP) distributed close to 10,000 hot meals on Monday and Tuesday to about 5,000 people displaced in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

Haq said the UN agency started to transition from hot meals distributions to cash-based transfers for the displaced.

“So far, more than 37,000 people received cash. In the coming weeks, WFP is planning to provide cash assistance to over 95,000 displaced people,” the deputy spokesperson said.

He said WFP continued food distributions in Cité Soleil, and that more than 65,000 people have received food since last Friday, adding that the agency’s goal is to reach 95,000 people by the end of this week.

As part of its school meal programme, Haq said WFP has reached 195,000 school children throughout Haiti.

Following needs assessments in Gressier, a neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince, after violent incidents there, he said WFP is planning to begin hot meal distributions in this community on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Haq said the International Organization for Migration (IOM) distributed water to two sites hosting displaced people and provided health services through a mobile clinic in one site in Port-au-Prince.

On Monday, the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, reported that aid organisations continue to provide emergency assistance to thousands of people across Port-au-Prince amid ongoing gang activity.

OCHA warned that some residents are “extremely vulnerable, with armed groups continuing to perpetrate coordinated attacks”.

On Friday, OCHA said the commune of Gressier, south of Port-au-Prince, was attacked, and several houses set on fire, forcing an unknown number of people to flee.

Humanitarian partners are conducting assessments both in Gressier and nearby areas where people fled, OCHA said.

Currently, it said some 362,000 people are displaced in Haiti, half of them children, with 160,000 in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

IOM said that, during the period from March 8 through April 9, some 95,000 people fled the capital, 60 percent of them to the southern departments.

“Humanitarians remain steadfast in their commitment to assist the Haitian people,” OCHA said.

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