Children collect fresh water at a stream in Port-au-Prince Children collect fresh water at a stream in Port-au-Prince 

UN warns of starvation catastrophe in Haiti

The United Nations is warning about the imminent danger of starvation in an enclave of Haiti’s Capital, which is under the thumb of street gangs, who control it with an iron fist.

By James Blears

The World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization say that almost five million people in Haiti are on the verge of starvation.

The two UN agencies identify the Cite Soleil district of Haiti’s capital, Port Au Prince, as a hunger crisis point, where over 19,000 people are facing imminent famine.

Feuding street gangs make access to this area difficult and highly dangerous. Organized crime groups recently attacked and looted warehouses of aid organizations.

Haiti is also facing the outbreak of cholera, as fresh drinking water has become scarce.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Jean-Martin Bauer, WFP’s country director in Haiti said, “Haiti is facing a humanitarian catastrophe,” pointing out that the situation is “close to breaking point”.

Deep-rooted suffering

The country never properly recovered from the devastating 2010 earthquake, which killed a quarter of a million people, and destroyed or damaged two hundred thousand homes and thirty thousand commercial buildings.

In 2021, the political balance toppled, when foreign mercenaries assassinated President Jovenel Moise.

Going even further back, the repression of dictator Francois "Papa Doc Duvalier" from 1957 to 1971—and then more of the same from his son Jean Claude "Baby Doc" until 1986—set Haiti on a downward spiral, miring it as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Call for international help

The current Prime Minister Ariel Henri last month removed fuel subsidies, which further worsened the already-fragile economy.

Mr. Henri is now pleading for international armed intervention, as his forces of law-and-order simply are unable to combat the street gangs.

Starvation, disease and lawlessness are tightening their tentacles into a stranglehold around Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, which is building a border wall, to distance itself.

Only a coordinated global response would appear to be a sufficient solution to stem the disintegration of a nation and the fabric of its entire infrastructure.

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15 October 2022, 10:45