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Haitian Pop Star Joins With UN to Feed Hungry

Haitian Pop Star Joins Forces With UN to Feed Some of the World's Hungriest

New York, Nov 14 2005 2:00PM

The United Nations food aid agency and an organization founded by Haitian pop star Wyclef Jean announced today that they have joined forces to distribute food in two of the most violent neighbourhoods in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, where hunger is so severe that residents consume mud pies containing trace nutrients.

Large-scale food distributions had been significantly decreased or even stopped altogether last year in Cité Soleil and Bel Air because of the level of danger there, according to the World Food Programme (WFP) and Yéle Haiti, which was created by Mr. Jean after the devastation of Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004.

In June this year, Yéle Haiti organized local hip hop musicians to distribute rice, beans and vegetable oil to the poorest people in the two neighbourhoods and WFP has agreed to provide food for continued distributions. Twice-monthly distributions feeding approximately 2,700 people, and there are plans to increase that number.

Beneficiaries are chosen by local community centres, and the musicians distribute the food mainly to women, the traditional heads of families in Haiti.

"Working with Yéle Haiti has allowed us to reach out to some of the most vulnerable people in Haiti, namely the women and children of Cité Soleil and Bel Air. We are therefore very happy about this new cooperation," says WFP Haiti Country Director Mamadou Mbaye.

The neighbourhoods, said WFP, are the poorest slums in Haiti, which is itself the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Overall unemployment in Haiti is at 80 per cent, and even higher in these districts. Open sewers run through the slum shacks, which are often built on mounds of garbage.

Mud pies have been part of life in Cité Soleil and Bel Air for decades, the agency said. The polluted clay is formed into patties and laid in the sun to bake.


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