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Haiti Needs Help Dealing With Food Crisis Impact

Haiti Needs Help To Deal With Food Crisis, Ban Says Ahead Of World Summit

2 June 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for renewed efforts to help Haiti deal with the impact of the recent surge in the prices of many basic foods, a day before he attends a high-level summit in Rome on efforts around the world to tackle the food crisis.

After arriving in Rome today, Mr. Ban addressed a meeting on food security in Haiti, noting that for the past few weeks he has been urging the international community to address the situation in the country.

"The island's fragile governance and deteriorating living conditions have created a volatile and potentially dangerous atmosphere," he said.

Mr. Ban said the recent price rises had compounded the suffering of Haitians and that popular frustration had boiled over into massive and sometimes violent demonstrations.

"The current political turmoil has complicated joint efforts by national authorities and the international community to restore the country on the path toward stability, recovery and development. If we allow this crisis to go unchecked, much of what has been achieved over the past four years in Haiti could easily unravel," he added.

To tackle the situation in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the Secretary-General called for immediate humanitarian aid as well as steps to boost agricultural production.

Mr. Ban, who is in Rome for tomorrow's start of a three-day summit organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is chairing an international task force on the food crisis, bringing together the heads of key UN agencies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as heads of State and government.

Today he also met with the Presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Djibouti as well as the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, in addition to visiting the headquarters of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), where a new headquarters building was inaugurated.

At the inauguration Mr. Ban praised IFAD for its work on eradicating rural poverty.

"For more than three decades, IFAD has led some of the UN's most successful development efforts aimed at the rural poor across the world," he said.

ENDS

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