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Haiti officials decry 'humanitarian catastrophe' to UN

September 27, 2022

After the announcement of a fuel price hike two weeks ago, looting and violence have ensued in Haiti. Organizations have been unable to provide aid to the poor due to gangs blocking roads.

People run on the street following clashes in Haiti
Gangs have blocked roads from the capital Port-au-PrinceImage: Odelyn Joseph/AP/picture alliance

Speaking at the United Nations Security Council, Haiti officials warned of a "humanitarian catastrophe" unfolding in their island nation. They said Haiti hit "new levels of desperation" after two weeks of violence and attacks on food aid warehouses.

Looting in Haiti this month led to the loss of at least $6 million (€6.2 million) of relief assistance, including 2,000 tons (1,800 metric tons) of food, a World Food Programme (WFP) official had said. 

"An economic crisis, a gang crisis and a political crisis have converged into a humanitarian catastrophe," Haiti's UN envoy, Helen La Lime, said on Monday.

"Before the current bout of civil unrest, some 4.9 million Haitians were in a state of humanitarian need. In the last two weeks alone, attacks on WFP have resulted in the loss of some 2,000 tons of food aid valued at close to $5 million, that would have collectively supported up to 200,000 of the most vulnerable Haitians over the next month," she said.

Aid blocked by gangs

La Lime also added that the fuel terminal at Varreux had been blocked by criminal gangs for more than a week.

After the announcement of a fuel price hike by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, protests and looting have ensued. The government cited high costs as a reason to cut fuel subsidies. 

The largest industrial park in Haiti, Caracol, has also ceased operating. Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus, who was also at the meeting, said it could cause the loss of 12,000 jobs. He said private companies are threatening to leave the country and that the possibility of children returning to school is now "hypothetical." Haiti had previously planned to reopen schools on October 3.

Roads from Port-au-Prince have been blocked by gangs for months, slowing down efforts by aid agencies to distribute food to the poor.

tg/dj (AFP, Reuters)

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