Celebrities Highlight Haitians' Continuing Plight
UN Mission Uses Star Power To Highlight Continuing Plight Of Haitians
New York, Sep 16 2008 6:10PM
The United Nations mission in Haiti said today it was encouraged by the solidarity shown by politicians, the private sector, the diaspora and others in supporting the relief effort to the hurricane-ravaged country, as two international stars, Wyclef Jean and Matt Damon, joined blue helmets in handing out food to flood victims.
The Haitian-born musician Mr. Jean and Mr. Damon, the United States actor, helped the mission (known as MINUSTAH) at the weekend distribute food in Gonaïves and Cabaret, two of the towns hit hardest by the recent series of storms.
The bags given out contained rice, ground maize, milk, sardines and cooking oil, enough to feed a family of six for five to six days.
“I love you very much. When I look at you, it’s me I see. It was important for me to see how you are affected by these disasters. We must see the situation to know what to ask,” said Mr. Jean.
As well as providing help in distributing emergency aid, Mr. Jean and Mr. Damon wanted to see the extent of the damage to the impoverished country for themselves to better lobby for international aid and draw greater public awareness to the dire plight of the estimated 800,000 Haitians affected by the storm floods.
“The USA faces Hurricane Ike. Consequently, newspapers are not going to talk about Haiti. The only way for them to talk about the country, was to announce we would come to Haiti,” the singer told a crowd in Gonaïves.
“It is important that I talk to my friends, including Matt Damon. And in a few days when we go back, all the newspapers will report that Matt Damon was in Haiti to observe the damage caused by the storms and hurricanes that battered the country,”
A vast majority of the population were already facing extreme hardship before the recent disasters inflicted the country, with rocketing food prices and 53 per cent of people living on less than $1 per day.
The four back-to-back storms that ravaged Haiti in the last month, leaving at least 328 people dead and a trail of devastation, only compounded the already catastrophic situation devastating Haiti.
Mr. Jean has promised that his foundation, Yele Haiti, will distribute food aid to some 10,000 families on a monthly basis starting in the next six weeks or so, according to a MINUSTAH press release.