Haiti one step away from famine, warns UN

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti, Ulrika Richardson, is warning that the situation in the gang-ravaged capital Port-au-Prince has gone from worrying to “extremely alarming” as conditions continue to worsen amid growing hunger and serious shortages in hospitals to treat gunshot victims.

“It’s important we don’t let the violence spill over from the capital into the country,” Richardson told reporters here via video link from Haiti.

She said orchestrated gang attacks on prisons, ports, hospitals and the palace have unfolded over the past weeks, but added that, in the past few days, these heavily armed groups have been advancing into new areas of the capital.

“There is human suffering at an alarming scale,” said Richardson, describing daily tension, sounds of gunshots and fear rising throughout the capital.

She said abhorrent human rights violations are ongoing, with more than 2 500 people killed, kidnapped or injured, stressing that sexual violence is rampant, with the use of torture and “collective rape” against women.

Richardson said a total of 5.5 million Haitians needed assistance, more than three million of them children and that food security remains a grave concern, with malnutrition being reported in a growing number of youngsters.

In addition, Richardson said 45 per cent of Haitians do not have access to clean water.

She warned that Haiti is “one step away from famine”, calling for urgent support for the humanitarian response plan, which requires US$674 million but is only six per cent funded.

With more funds, “we can do more” to help the people of Haiti, she said, stating that “time is running out”.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator said UN-backed flights to Haiti have brought some shipments of lifesaving supplies, including blood transfusion bags for hospitals treating growing numbers of gunshot victims.

But she said the airport is closed to commercial traffic, making it impossible to import essential goods, including medicines.

Richardson said the national port is operational, but accessing it is challenging, as the surrounding areas are controlled by gangs.

The UN health agency, World Health Organisation (WHO), reported that less than half of health facilities in Port-au-Prince are functioning at their normal capacity, stating that there is a pressing need for safe blood products, anesthetics and other essential medicines.

According to the UN’s World Food Programme, 1.4 million people are facing emergency levels of hunger and need assistance to survive.

Elaborating on the health conditions, WHO said the cholera outbreak, which has been declining since the end of last year, could flare up again should the crisis continue.

WHO said cholera response activities and data surveillance have already been affected by the recent violence, adding that the situation could worsen significantly in the coming weeks, if fuel becomes scarce and access to essential medical supplies is not improved soon.

Therefore, the WHO chief called for swift support for efforts to help those trapped in a deteriorating situation.

“We call on all partners and the public not to forget the people of Haiti,” said WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also calling for safe and unhindered humanitarian access, health workers’ safety to be guaranteed and the protection of health facilities.

Dr Tedros said WHO and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) are supporting the Ministry of Health in Haiti and other partners with supplies and logistics, including water, sanitation and hygiene and disease surveillance in centres for displaced persons.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for all efforts to maintain the momentum and work towards implementing transitional arrangements agreed upon last week following the prime minister’s resignation, said UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq.

The UN chief welcomed reports that Haitian stakeholders have all nominated candidates to the Transitional Presidential Council, he said, adding that the UN, through its office in Haiti, BINUH, will continue to support the country in its efforts to restore democratic institutions.

“The swift deployment of the multinational mission remains critical to ensure that the political and security tracks can advance in parallel as only complementary efforts can be successful,” he said.

In a statement released on Thursday, the UN Security Council strongly condemned the violence and the attacks carried out by the armed gangs and stressed the need for the international community to redouble its efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the population and to support the Haitian National Police.

That includes through building the capacity to restore law and order, and through the swift deployment of multinational security support mission, which the council authorised by resolution 2699 (2023) in October, according to the statement. (CMC)

The post Haiti one step away from famine, warns UN appeared first on nationnews.com.

Leave a Reply