Famine Fears Rise in Haiti Following Devastating Hurricane

Posted on: October 11th, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti) — A week after Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti, leaving a trail of devastation across the nation, the country’s interim president fears further catastrophe is still to come for his country.

The interim president of Haiti, Jocelerme Privert, told ABC News’ partner, the BBC, that Hurricane Matthew has caused “apocalyptic” damage to the country.

Privert said that food, water and medicine were immediately needed. He also worried for long-term devastation as a result of the flooding, saying that three or four months later when the food supplies stop coming in, the country is going to face a “real famine.”

Alexis Masciarelli, a spokesman for the United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP) in Haiti, told ABC News Tuesday that he has been on the ground in the country distributing food with WFP since Saturday.

“People are still in shock. Food is going to be an issue,” Masciarelli said, adding that in one southern peninsula city he visited, Jeremie, “100 percent of the crops have been washed out, there is nothing left.”

“Most of what they are eating is what they are finding on the ground, what has fallen from the trees after the hurricane. They have lost their crops,” Masciarelli said.

“I flew there by helicopter and it is quite striking, you see so many houses without roofs. Trees have fallen everywhere. When you reach the ground it is really dramatic. You can still feel the shock of the people, of what they went through,” he added.

Masciarelli said that in terms of food in the region, “they are completely dependent on assistance from their friends and family, and whatever assistance we can provide.”

WFP has distributed 500 tons of food to the affected areas and said they currently have enough food to feed 300,000 people for one month, but by the end of the week they will have a clearer idea of how many people will need food and for how long. Communications and access to rural areas remain difficult, he said.

In addition to the crops being wiped out, Masciarelli said he also couldn’t see a single fishing boat left when he flew into the area via helicopter.

“What is very clear is that local production is going to be affected, people are going to be dependent for a while on foreign aid,” he added. Masciarelli noted, however, that at the moment he is not worried about a long-term famine.

The official death toll from Hurricane Matthew in Haiti stands at 336, but many reports put that figure much higher as communications with some of the worst-hit areas remain extremely difficult.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for $120 million in aid Monday to help the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the hurricane, saying “a massive response is required.”

“Some towns and villages have been almost wiped off the map,” Ban told reporters Monday, “Crops and food reserves have been destroyed.”

The U.N. added that 1.4 million people in Haiti need assistance, and women and children are among the most vulnerable.

Holly Frew, an aid worker with the humanitarian group CARE who is currently on the ground in Haiti, said she couldn’t comment on whether there would be a long-term famine, but she has seen firsthand how many crops have been destroyed by the hurricane.

“When I was in the southeast, in Jacmel, 95 percent of the crops were destroyed. Everyone had lost all of their crops and all of their livestock,” Frew told ABC News Tuesday.

“This area was also suffering from a drought before the hurricane hit,” Frew added.

Frew went on to say that as the storm-ravaged nation begins to rebuild itself, much more humanitarian aid is still needed.

In addition, the region hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew is often referred to as the “breadbasket” and the agricultural heart of the country.

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