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Archive for Monday, April 14, 2008

Aid groups in Haiti fear food crisis could widen

A demonstrator eats grass in front of a U.N. Brazilian peacekeeping soldier during a protest last week against the high cost of living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Some aid organizations in the country are warning of a widening nutritional crisis in Haiti, where spiraling food prices have sparked more than a week of violent protests.

A demonstrator eats grass in front of a U.N. Brazilian peacekeeping soldier during a protest last week against the high cost of living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Some aid organizations in the country are warning of a widening nutritional crisis in Haiti, where spiraling food prices have sparked more than a week of violent protests.

April 14, 2008

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— Aid organizations said Sunday they feared the nutritional crisis could deepen in impoverished Haiti, where skyrocketing food prices have already led to deadly protests and the ouster of the nation's No. 2 politician.

With anger over food prices threatening the stability of this Caribbean nation already haunted by chronic hunger, the U.N. World Food Program appealed for donations to meet its $96 million aid goal for Haiti.

The president of the World Bank on Sunday announced an additional $10 million in aid to Haiti for feeding programs. Robert Zoellick said the ouster of Haiti's prime minister after a wave of rioting and looting over food prices underscores the importance of quick international action.

The chief of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, also sounded the alarm on food prices, warning that progress on development can be destroyed by spiraling food costs, which can lead to starvation and shake the stability of governments.

On Saturday, President Rene Preval announced subsidies to lower the price of rice and Haitian lawmakers fired Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis for failing to boost food production.

But aid workers said the measures might not be enough to ease popular anger if hunger continues to rise.

Mamadou Mbaye, who heads the U.N. World Food Program's office in Haiti, said fixing Haiti's systemic problems like unemployment and dependence on imported food cannot be accomplished immediately, and that means unrest could continue.

"Some measures will generate results in the long term ... but whether people will be willing to wait for that is another issue," he said.

Haiti imports almost all its food and global food prices have risen 40 percent since mid-2007. Locally, the prices of rice and pasta have doubled in parts of the capital of Haiti, a country where 2.4 million people already cannot afford the minimum daily calories recommended by the World Health Organization.

On Saturday, Preval announced that international aid and local importers would work together to lower rice prices by 15 percent.

A week of hunger-provoked protests and looting have already left seven people dead, including a Nigerian officer with the 9,000-member U.N. police force who was pulled from a car and killed Saturday afternoon. Three Sri Lankan peacekeepers on patrol were injured by gunfire earlier in the week.

On Sunday, Jessica Neerkorn, of the international medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres, confirmed that a 13-year-old Haitian boy died of a gunshot wound on Tuesday in the Martissant slum.

Preval is mulling over candidates to replace Alexis as prime minister, while some Haitians speculate lawmakers could go after the president next. Sen. Youri Latortue told reporters that legislators would be prepared to consider a new prime minister today.

A lull in violence Sunday allowed residents to shop in markets and attend church in the Haitian capital. U.N. peacekeepers reported no new violence or widespread protests.

The rising frustrations over increasing food costs have led to street demonstrations in at least a half-dozen other countries, including Mexico, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Escalating food costs have fueled double-digit inflation in Argentina and Bolivia, pushing leftist governments there to implement price controls and export bans to try to keep costs down. Shoppers in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Colombia are also seeing skyrocketing grocery bills.

Comments

SpiritTat 6 years ago

Precisely, bozo. The waste via un-founded violence that is the Iraq War is amazing in its largesse. So glad you posted that.... don't ya just wish more people were listening?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

BushCo could end crisis tomorrow with about an hour's worth of military expenditures diverted instead to food aid. But they prefer mass murder over humanitarian actions.

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