Thousands of flood victims in Haiti, Dominican Republic need urgent aid - UN

28 May 2004

Thousands of people along the Haitian-Dominican border lacking drinking water and food need urgent aid after raging floods left nearly 2,000 people dead or missing, destroyed crops, decimated livestock, and cut off roads and electricity, according to a United Nations relief assessment released today.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) called on the international community to show generosity to the victims and make up for a more than 50 per cent shortfall in an already existing emergency operation for Haiti.

Given the extensive damage, “thousands of families depend now on international assistance to get from one day to the next,” the WFP Representative in Haiti, Guy Gauvreau, said.

On the Dominican Republic side, a joint UN relief agency assessment team in Jimani, where over 300 people are feared dead or missing, found that some 5,000 people, or nearly 1,000 families, are in urgent need of assistance.

Across the border in Haiti, where nearly 1,700 people have so far been reported dead or missing, WFP has already begun using helicopters to deliver 40 tons of food to Fond Verrettes, a farming town of 45,000 built on a dried riverbed, now almost totally destroyed. More than 500 houses were washed away by a flash mud flood while many victims were sleeping, leaving some 680 people so far reported killed or missing.

Six WFP staff are already overseeing food distribution for 8,400 people in the town, most of them now homeless. With the sole road cut off by water, air transport is the only way in.

The agency will send another 20 tons of food to the town of Mapou, where some 1,000 people are reported missing. Emergency rations include fortified biscuits, rice, cereal flour and vegetable oil.

The flood victims will benefit under an operation WFP launched in March to help 140,000 vulnerable people affected by months of political and civil unrest. “But to help all those affected, we need donors to be as generous as they have been in the past," Mr. Gauvreau said.

To date, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland have supported the emergency operation but there is still a substantial shortfall of $6.3 million, or 56.4 percent of the total amount sought.


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