UN emergency food agency delivers 2 million meals to Haitians

23 January 2010

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is now delivering 2 million meals to Haitians as it continues to ramp up operations in the cities and towns hardest hit by the recent catastrophic earthquake in the Caribbean country.

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, currently visiting Haiti, issued a statement on Saturday in which she said the agency would keep expanding its existing relief efforts through five established humanitarian corridors.

An estimated 2 million meals were distributed yesterday courtesy of WFP, up from 1.2 million the day before.

WFP has been coordinating its relief effort with the UN peacekeeping mission (known as MINUSTAH), the Haitian Government and other aid partners, including the United States and the European Union.

"I have been encouraged to find genuine cooperation and coordination," Ms. Sheeran said. "This will allow us to knit together the operation over the coming weeks, in a way that will ensure every Haitian who needs assistance, gets it."

She said that the scale of the disaster was such that WFP was facing its most complex operation ever, with the basic supply chain infrastructure destroyed. Government figures indicate more than 100,000 people were killed after the quake struck on 12 January.

"Parts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, look worse than many war zones," Ms. Sheeran said, urging the international community to support relief and assistance efforts "for many months to come."

Last night WFP and the UN Children''s Fund (UNICEF) were among seven aid agencies or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to benefit from the Hope for Haiti Now benefit telethon.

Dozens of actors, musicians and other performers took part in the benefit, held in Los Angeles, New York and London, to raise funds for quake victims. All proceeds raised will be split among the seven relief groups.

One of the organizers, UN Messenger of Peace and actor-director George Clooney, told the telethon audience that "the Haitian people need our help. They need to know that they are not alone. They need to know that we still care."

Actor Matt Damon and actor-director Clint Eastwood also paid tribute to the UN staff who died in the quake. At least 70 staff were killed, while over 100 others remain unaccounted for.

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Haiti: UN-backed quake relief operations expand beyond devastated capital

United Nations-supported relief efforts to reach the countless victims of Haiti’s devastating earthquake are expanding to areas away from Port-au-Prince, the capital, to smaller towns and communities as aid agencies struggle to ramp up their operations to meet the enormity of the task.