WFP warns of “significant” increase in hunger in Port-au-Prince due to violence and economic crisis in Haiti

The World Food Program (WFP) has warned Tuesday of a “significant” increase in hunger in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and other areas in the south of the country, where about half of the population is food insecure, due to increased violence by armed gangs and the deepening economic crisis.

The agency has highlighted that insecurity in and around the capital Port-au-Prince has worsened dramatically since early May, affecting supply chains and access to basic services such as markets, schools and hospitals.

“Large parts of the population have been cut off from the economic heart of the country. This comes at a time when Haiti is coping with the effects of COVID-19, recent natural disasters, high inflation and increased costs due to the conflict in Ukraine,” explained WFP Haiti Country Director Jean-Martin Bauer.

“We are seeing a significant increase in hunger in the capital and south of the country, with Port-au-Prince hit the hardest,” he lamented, according to a statement released by the agency.

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The violence is also causing a protection crisis and making it difficult for the population to obtain and afford food, amid rising inflation and food and fuel prices, against a backdrop of a global food crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

In this regard, the WFP has highlighted that inflation in the country revolves around 26 percent and recalled that the country is “particularly vulnerable” to ‘shocks’ in international food and fuel markets, given that it imports 70 percent of its cereals.

Added to this, the upcoming hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean is expected to be more active than normal, which could endanger the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable Haitians.

The security situation is also impacting humanitarian aid delivery operations, especially due to the blockade of the road leading to the southern peninsula for nearly a year, which has left some 3.8 million people living in the departments south of Port-au-Prince isolated.

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The outflow to the north from the capital has also recently been affected, so WFP is using sea routes as an alternative to deliver aid in the south and north of the country.

“The only safe option for aid workers to move is by air, but without adequate funding the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) faces imminent closure at the end of July,” Bauer warned.

“Ultimately, this puts at risk not only WFP’s assistance, but humanitarian operations in the country,” he said. WFP makes a funding shortfall of $39 million (about 38.5 million euros) for its response over the next six months in Haiti.

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