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Haiti Civil Crisis Preventing Food Aid Deliveries


Haiti's Civil Crisis Preventing Vital Food Aid Deliveries, UN Agency Reports

The United Nations food relief agency today expressed its growing concern over the recent outbreak of civil strife in Haiti, warning that the closure of key roads is blocking the delivery of food aid to almost 270,000 needy people.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said it has the food supplies ready to be delivered to Haiti's north and northwest, where stocks are dropping in many cities and towns. But <"http://www.wfp.org/index.html">WFP also faces a shortfall of $3.1 million to run its operations this year in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.

The main route used by the WFP to deliver food to the north has been blocked since last Thursday, when violent clashes erupted between police and armed groups in the strategic city of Gonaives.

The agency was scheduled to transport 1.4 tons of cereals to its warehouses in Cap-Haitien and Bombardopolis, both in the north of the country, to help some 268,000 people, including school children, pregnant and lactating mothers, HIV/AIDS orphans and others affected by drought or floods there.

As the agency explores bringing aid to the north by boat, WFP's Country Director in Haiti, Guy Gauvreau, warned that the consequences of late deliveries could be grave. "More than half the food required this month is ready for transport," he said. "If we are not able to move it in the coming week, food distributions will be disrupted and malnutrition will rise, especially among vulnerable children."

The warehouses in Cap-Haitien and Bombardopolis currently have some supplies of food, mostly oil and lentils, but more cereals are required to make sure that recipients have a balanced diet.

WFP is also concerned about the security of its food convoys. Staff have reported eight separate attacks on agency trucks since the end of November, with 61 tons of aid lost as a result.

Meanwhile in New York, a UN spokesman said Secretary-General Kofi Annan is sending an assessment team to Haiti to look at ways to increase the world body's humanitarian work there.

"He also would like to give active support on the political side to the efforts of the OAS [Organization of American States] and CARICOM [Caribbean Community] to try to find a political solution to the current crisis there," spokesman Fred Eckhard said in response to press questions.

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