Sunday, July 21, 2024


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Unprecedented hunger and malnutrition threaten lives across the country

Today, the heads of UNICEF and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) concluded missions in Haiti and demanded significantly more assistance for extremely vulnerable families and children who are confronted with widespread violence, deadly natural disasters, and a resurgence of cholera.

The hunger crisis in Haiti goes unnoticed, unheard, and unaddressed. Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the World Food Program, stated, “We don’t hear as much about the 4.9 million Haitians struggling to eat on a daily basis. The proportion of Haitians experiencing food insecurity of an emergency level is the second highest per capita in the world; we cannot abandon them.

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According to UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, “Humanitarian needs are even greater today than after the devastating earthquake in 2010, but with far fewer resources to respond.” Children and families in Haiti are overcoming insurmountable obstacles, and they are not giving up, as I have witnessed and heard. The international community shouldn’t either in the country’s hour of greatest need.”

In total, 5.2 million people, including nearly 3 million children, require immediate humanitarian assistance. A few 4.9 million individuals are battling to take care of themselves, and more than 115,000 youngsters under five years of age are projected to experience the ill effects of hazardous unhealthiness this year, a 30 percent spike since the year before. Schools have been attacked by armed groups, the healthcare system is close to failing, and civilians are being terrorized and deprived of their livelihoods. Sexual violence against women and children is at an alarming rate in the most dangerous parts of the capital. Haiti’s vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters was starkly demonstrated by deadly floods and an earthquake in June.

Russell and McCain went to a school supported by UNICEF and WFP and talked to Prime Minister Ariel Henry and other government officials.

McCain interacted with individuals who receive monthly cash-based transfers as part of a social safety net program in the city of Jérémie. These individuals are farmers and food processors who provide schools in Haiti with food that has been grown there. She also went to a food preparation center in Port-au-Prince, where WFP and a partner deliver hot meals every day to schools in Cité Soleil’s armed conflict zones.

Russell, who was recently appointed Principal Advocate for Haiti for the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, a group of senior humanitarian leaders, went to a site where UNICEF supports a mobile health clinic for families displaced by the violence. She also spoke privately with children and women who had been the victims of sexual violence by the armed groups, as well as with a nutrition center where severely malnourished children receive therapeutic care with UNICEF support that saves their lives.

Only 23% of the 720 million dollars that are needed for the UN response in 2023 have been allocated. WFP needs US$330 million to arrive at its objective of helping 2.3 million individuals in 2023, while UNICEF is engaging for US$246 million to arrive at 1.7 million youngsters this year.

McCain and Russell advocated for quick, adaptable, and prioritized funding for the most pressing requirements.

When nearly half of the people in Haiti are starving, there will never be peace. The WFP Executive Director stated, “The hope for a good meal on the table and a better future comes with peace.” We must immediately fund Haiti’s future; we cannot wait for people to starve to death.

Russell emphasized the importance of providing longer-term development solutions, restoring basic services, and a more robust humanitarian response for those in greatest need. She stated that the international financial institutions, as well as the private and public sectors, must intensify their support for Haiti with a renewed sense of urgency.

Russell stated, “People in Haiti are in a perpetual survival mode, with no safety net at all.” The health, education, social, and protection services that Haitian families tell us they need can be implemented with assistance from the international community. Most importantly, everything they said to me is that they frantically need a finish to the savagery and frailty.”

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