Haiti Crisis: FFTP Poised to Respond in Face of Hunger, Violence and Fuel Shortages
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (September 16, 2022) As tensions rise in Haiti with escalating violence, soaring inflation and a growing hunger crisis, Food For The Poor is poised to respond and overcome obstacles to get aid to people who need it most.
The dire situation in the capital of Port-au-Prince has contributed to runaway food insecurity for more than 1 million people there, according to the United Nations World Food Programme.
Mario Nicoleau, Executive Director of FFTP-Haiti, described the situation as “very precarious.”
This week, the Haitian government announced fuel prices would double, spurring protests that paralyzed streets and forced businesses and schools to close. Now, the country is facing the threat of torrential downpours this weekend from Tropical Storm Fiona, which could lead to flooding and landslides and more misery.
“The streets are difficult and dangerous,” Nicoleau said. “Everybody’s just bracing for the worst. It’s a very volatile situation.”
The charity’s offices in Haiti have been locked down for several days due to roadblocks and violence. Once they reopen, the charity is poised to immediately distribute 10,000 bags of rice – equal to 25 tractor-trailer loads – together with food and other items through a network of 53 churches in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.
Working in Haiti for 37 years, the charity is uniquely positioned to get work done in this Caribbean country that is facing some of the most severe economic challenges it has ever experienced.
Other actions include fixing the water and propane systems at Port-au-Prince’s main prison at the urgent request of the government. The prison has been unable to provide hot meals on a regular basis because of equipment problems.
The charity’s headquarters in Coconut Creek, Fla., is actively working to provide additional food for relief kits that could feed an average family of five for one week. As many as 30,000 families need immediate assistance.
“Haiti has clearly been in a long cycle of challenges,” FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said. “We’re not always able to be out there because of what’s going on. But when the opportunity presents itself, we are uniquely positioned as the largest NGO (nongovernmental organization) in Haiti to respond in a very big way.”
As a sign of resilience, FFTP has continued to ship tractor-trailer loads of aid to Haiti so they can be cleared at the port whenever there is an opportunity. When roads have become blocked by armed gangs and burning tires, the charity has relied on barges and sea routes instead.
Last month, FFTP-Haiti cooked 4,000 hot meals a day for 15 days to feed prisoners at Port-au-Prince’s main prison. It provided a hot supper to feed 800 children who were uprooted from their families in Cité Soleil, while continuing to provide dry food rations every week. And it prepared 3,800 food baskets to distribute to families displaced from Cité Soleil through local partner E-Power, a private utility company.
Haiti has grown increasingly unstable ever since the July 7, 2021, assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Since then, gang activity has surged, blocking roads, seizing entire neighborhoods and shutting down terminals at the port at times and halting delivery of fuel into the country and exacerbating shortages. Inflation has hit 31 percent. Grocery stores have closed because they can’t stock food.
On top of that, Haiti is still recovering from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the southern peninsula on Aug. 14, 2021, followed by a tropical storm a few days later. Two more significant quakes occurred in the same region in January.
Gangs seized control of the main road leading from the capital to the south, disrupting efforts to provide food, water and other basic goods to those in need.
Yet despite those challenges, the charity still found a way to build 137 new homes, with 40 under construction and 30 ready for work to begin in the area affected by the quake. It built one new school with five more under construction, and 29 temporary school shelter modules for 10 schools, with 34 in progress. And it provided 900 food baskets to 6,000 beneficiaries and distributed 6,000 bags of rice, 1,585 bags of beans and 69 cases of beans.
But needs are mounting throughout the country.
According to the World Food Programme, 4.5 million Haitians need immediate food assistance, representing almost half the population. The Associated Press reported that the agency’s country director, Jean-Martin Bauer, told U.N. correspondents that 1.3 million Haitians in the northwest and parts of the south “are one step away from famine.”
“Innocent people are the ones who will suffer and they need somebody to look after them,” Raine said. “So, what will happen is that businesses will close, people will lose jobs, they don’t have income, they can’t buy food. There is less food to buy. It’s more expensive. There is no fuel.”
Families that have stayed in Haiti for years to ride out previous upheavals are now saying they no longer feel safe and want to get out.
Catherine Hermantin, Project Manager for FFTP-Haiti, described the day-to-day situation in the country as “very chaotic.”
“I’ve lived in Haiti a long time. It’s never been this way for this long,” she said. “It would only last a week, maybe a couple of days. But this has been going on for about a year. Everybody’s just in place locked down.”
FFTP is the largest nongovernmental organization working in Haiti since 1986 with 400 staffers in the country, two warehouses, 13 distribution centers and close to 4,000 distribution end points.
“We are well-positioned to carry out the wishes of our generous donors who continue to reach out to the people of Haiti,” Raine said. “No one wants to leave their country. We know we need to do whatever we can to help Haiti so that families can have a good life there.” Donors can help FFTP deliver aid to Haiti by making a cash donation. Go to: www.FoodForThePoor.org/haiticrisis.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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