UN requests $84 million for 'silent crisis' in Haiti

UN requests $84 million for 'silent crisis' in Haiti

The United Nations team in Haiti has appealed for $84 million for an emergency programme to assist the country's poorest communities facing an unprecedented economic crisis and deteriorating social conditions that have largely gone unnoticed by the international media.

"The appeal constitutes an urgent effort by the UN system to focus attention on a silent, chronic and forgotten crisis in Haiti," Adama Guindo, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, said.

Haiti, where two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line, is among the poorest countries in the Americas, UNDP said. Only half of adults are literate, and the school dropout rate has accelerated, due in part to the economic crisis. Haiti is also very vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes, and poor roads and communications hinder effective responses to such emergencies.

UNDP said it has developed 21 projects totalling nearly $22 million to improve public administration at the community level, create jobs and provide small loans to help the poorest improve their livelihoods. In addition, programmes will also aim to curb the spread of small arms and community violence, and reduce the risks posed by natural disasters.

Despite the difficult political situation, Mr. Guindo stated, the initial reaction from some of the main donors looks promising. UNDP and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) are coordinating the appeal, supported by national and international civil society organizations.