Wednesday, September 10, 2008

U.N. Seeks Almost $108 Million For Haiti Floods

The United Nations appealed for nearly $108 million Wednesday for an estimated 800,000 people in Haiti in need of humanitarian aid to deal with a series of devastating tropical storms and hurricanes.

The number of people who need help finding shelter, clean water and food represents almost 10 percent of the desperately poor Caribbean nation's population. Four tropical storms and hurricanes in less than a month have all but wiped out the season's entire harvest, and left at least 331 people dead and 37 more missing.

Hurricane Ike is the latest storm to afflict Haiti, after it was struck within one week by Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna. The country was already struggling with Hurricane Fay's heavy rains in August.

Haiti's government has all but given up trying to update the death toll as the floodwaters recede and more bodies surface.

Even before the storms hit, food prices in Haiti had soared by 40 percent since the start of the year and slightly more than half its inhabitants was living on less than $1 a day.

John Holmes, the United Nations' humanitarian chief, said the emergency and recovery aid being sought is especially crucial since ``the longer-term economic impact is also bound to be grave.''

The money -- including $48 million for food, shelter and other items and $11 million for agriculture -- is to be used by several U.N. agencies and non-governmental organizations, Haiti's government and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, has been providing assistance particularly in the flooded low-lying coastal city of Gonaives, where about 70,000 people remain in shelters.

Logistics for humanitarian workers has been coordinated by the World Food Program, which along with UNICEF and other U.N. agencies and aid groups also has been providing food, shelter and other supplies. The World Food Program has distributed 282 metric tons of food for about 42,000 people in Haiti, said program representative Myrta Kaulard.

On Tuesday, an amphibious U.S. Navy boat reached Gonaives with 140 metric tons of food from the USS Kearsarge, which was diverted from Colombia on a humanitarian mission.

''These storms hit just as Haitians were struggling to cope with rising food and fuel prices,'' Kaulard said. 'As one Haitian man put it: 'In Haiti, we live a constant cyclone.' ``

Source: MiamiHerald.Com

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