Wednesday, September 3, 2008

WFP feeds thousands displaced by Hurricane Gustav in Haiti

Victims of flooding from Hurricane Gustav receive food relief in the Port-au-Prince slum of Cite Soleil.

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti: The United Nations World Food Programme has begun feeding some of the estimated 6,000 displaced by deadly Hurricane Gustav in southern Haiti, where communities remain out of reach because of washed out roads and bridges.

WFP assessment teams on Friday traveled to the Cite Soleil neighbourhood of the capital Port au Prince, as well as the southern towns of Leogane, Grand Goave and Petit Goave, to assess food needs, after a two-day UN travel ban was lifted.

The category-1 hurricane raged through southern Haiti on Wednesday, killing at least 51 people and displacing more than 6,000 according to preliminary Government estimates. Rains and winds, in some areas at 150km/h, also destroyed homes, livestock and crops.

“With WFP stocks already in place, our partners on the ground have been able to begin distributing food to some of the affected families, and we will continue to assist as needs are determined,” said Myrta Kaulard, WFP Country Director in Haiti. “Many people in these areas of southern Haiti already suffer malnutrition or micronutrient deficiencies, and cannot afford this kind of upheaval.”

As an initial response, in Haiti’s southeast department, WFP’s partners are distributing rice, beans and oil to 2,000 families. In the south department, 159 people in shelters are receiving two cooked meals – consisting of rice, beans and corn-soya blend – daily, for an initial period of four days.

WFP will collaborate with UNICEF to provide a complete package of food and other humanitarian items to affected populations.

UN and Haitian Government officials are planning to fly over the area in a UN aircraft to survey affected areas and determine the scale of casualties and damages.

The natural disaster comes as WFP is running operations to help already burdened Haitian communities cope with sharp hikes in food and fuel prices. Thanks to recent generous contributions from donors, WFP has adequate food on hand to respond to this latest emergency. But contributions will be needed to replenish foodstocks for WFP’s existing programmes in the country.

Source: CNN

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