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Charities warn of food crisis in troubled Haiti

THE SITUATION in Haiti is “very serious”, a spokeswoman for Christian Aid said on Wednesday. Christian Aid and CAFOD are both warning of an impending humanitarian crisis as a result of the escalating conflict there.

The country has been in turmoil since the weekend, when rebels began seizing cities across the country in an attempt to overthrow President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The anti-government opposition has formed a coalition called the Group of 184, but lacks a clearly identified leader.

The rebels now control more than half of the country, and, as the Church Times went to press, were expected to march on the capital, Port-au-Prince, in a final offensive. On Wednesday, the coalition rejected a power-sharing plan proposed by the US.

View from Christian Aid
Judith Escribano, a spokeswoman for Christian Aid, who visited Haiti at the end of last year, said that the agency was conducting an emergency assessment, in order to be ready to act when the political situation improves. In the mean time, she said, the eight projects run by Christian Aid partners in Haiti were struggling to function because workers could not reach their offices.

“It looks as if the situation is going to get worse before it gets better,” she said. “We are keeping in very close contact. Once the political situation allows, we will supply more help.”

The most pressing concerns would be feeding people. “People may not realise that we are already running an emergency feeding programme in parts of the country.”

View from CAFOD partner
Fr Wilnes Tilus, the director of Caritas Haiti, a CAFOD partner, said that there was a “climate of terror” in the country.

“The country is on the brink of civil war, with civilians being caught between pro- and anti- government forces,” he said. “The collapse of health services is making it extremely difficult to give medical assistance to the victims of the fighting. Vulnerable populations are cut off from food and their livelihoods by the conflict.

“The situation of anarchy, of institutionalised violence, and of insecurity contributes to worsening the already precarious situation for he people. At least four million Haitians, half the population, already live in a situation of constant food insecurity.”

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