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WFP streaming food and supplies to Haitians

WFP is sending a steady stream of food and humanitarian supplies by air and sea to the devastated port city of Gonaives and to the storm-battered southern and western areas of Haiti.

WFP is sending a steady stream of food and humanitarian supplies by air and sea to the devastated port city of Gonaives and to the storm-battered southern and western areas of Haiti.

Between 26 August and 7 September, WFP distributed 371 MT of food assistance to 60,800 people affected by the succession of storms. In Gonaives, to date WFP has reached 20,645 people and the distributions continue daily. The plan is to begin preparing hot meals in the temporary shelters as well as distribute 15-day rations, as people set up the means to cook.

Meanwhile, WFP is coordinating logistics for the humanitarian community in response to the wave of storms that have hit Haiti. This is a major challenge because after Hurricane Ike all bridges collapsed and all road links have been cut. Transport is possible only by sea and by air.

Mud and water

Distributions in Gonaives are complicated at best. Water is still at 1.5 to 2 meters in some areas and both aid workers and beneficiaries have to navigate water and mud to move around. Military escorts are required for all distributions.

Water that had receded several days after Tropical Storm Hanna began rising again at the weekend as rains from Hurricane Ike arrived, limiting movements again.

‘Haitians live a constant cyclone,’ one Haitian man said. ‘The difficulties of daily life here – it’s a constant cyclone.’ So the impact of the four storms that recently hit Haiti in rapid succession is just tearing people apart, he said.

Compounding problems

Over half of Haitians live on less than US$1 a day. Some 4.3 million people – or nearly half the population – are undernourished. This series of storms hit just as Haitians were struggling to cope with food and fuel price hikes, which were already forcing people to eat less and some to forgo sending their children to school.

The Haiti regions, or ‘departments’, most heavily affected by the succession of storms are Artibonite, Southeast, South, Nippes, West and North West and North.

WFP is urging the donor community to urgently provide resources for boats and helicopters so urgent supplies can be transported to all affected areas. The UN is finalising a flash appeal for about US$100 million.

Biscuits to Cuba

WFP has also stepped in to help people affected by Hurricane Gustav elsewhere in the Caribbean. Some 45 MT of High-Energy biscuits (HEBs) were sent via airlift to Cuba over the weekend. The biscuits came from WFP's Regional Humanitarian Response Centre based in El Salvador and were destined for distribution among 86,000 Hurricane-hit people, especially in the Isla de la Juventud (Island of Youth).

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