"The Need Is Going to Get Worse": Upheaval in Haiti Calls for Extraordinary Response

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (June 14, 2021) A surge in COVID-19 cases coupled with civil unrest and gang violence have created a humanitarian crisis in Haiti with families facing dire hunger and hospitals not equipped to treat patients ill with the virus.

Severe acute childhood malnutrition is expected to more than double this year in Haiti due to the pandemic and rising crime, according to UNICEF.

About 4.4 million people out of a population of 11 million are estimated to be food insecure in Haiti, including 1.9 million children, with UNICEF warning that access to nutritious food will worsen if a storm strikes Haiti.

Food For The Poor is responding to the crisis by distributing food, water and other critically needed aid, using its long-established trusted networks of dedicated partners and churches. Beneficiaries are coming to the charity's Port-au-Prince warehouse to pick up goods, because the roads are too unsafe to deliver goods.

The charity has 125 containers of aid either en route or at the port in Port-au-Prince.

At the same time, many doctors themselves are suffering from COVID-19. One hospital reported that 90 percent of the staff was ill.

"The hospitals are all full," said Bishop Oge Beauvoir, Executive Director of FFTP-Haiti, in a briefing for the team at the Florida headquarters.

"They are running out of oxygen tanks, medicines," he said. "They are lacking PPE. They're lacking almost everything. People in the countryside have no place to go. They are dying. They are not accounted for. It's a very tough situation."

As of June 14, just over 16,000 cases of COVID-19 in Haiti had been reported, almost three times as many as in late December, according to worldometers.info.

Beauvoir said the country is facing challenges unlike anything he's seen in his 45 years living in Haiti.

The acceleration of gang violence, he added, has led to 200,000 people fleeing their homes, many taking refuge in rural areas outside Port-au-Prince. About 4,000 are living in public squares in the city.

FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said the charity is launching an emergency appeal to raise funds to help Haiti.

"The economy is wrecked. People don't have jobs. They don't have money to buy food. Food prices have gone up dramatically as well," Raine said. "It's dire."

This volatile situation comes at a time when FFTP marks its 35th year serving in Haiti.

Over the years in Haiti, FFTP has:

  • Built 19,806 homes since it began a housing program and started building homes in Cite Soleil. A total of 11,869 of these homes were built since the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In 2020, FFTP built 652 homes.
  • Shipped 1,049 tractor-trailer loads of needed supplies in 2020, such as food, health care items, and educational supplies. In addition to the daily feeding programs, tractor-trailer loads of food (such as rice, beans, flour, powdered milk and oil) are distributed to a variety of organizations throughout the country.
  • Operated a clinic at our warehouse compound in Port-au-Prince. FFTP covered the operating expenses at other medical centers and built facilities in areas without access to health care. In 2020, FFTP shipped 135 tractor-trailer loads of medical supplies.
But Haiti faces extreme hunger, perhaps unlike any seen in the lifetimes of those serving now. In Baie d'Orange, FFTP rushed help to the community after leaders there reported the deaths of two children due to malnutrition.

"In my lifetime in Haiti, I have never seen this country in this particular predicament. Economically, it's never been this bad," said Mario Nicoleau, Chief Operating Officer, FFTP-Haiti.

"The way the country is right now, if everything gets resolved, it's already a disaster," Nicoleau added. "People are hungry. The need is going to get worse."

To help families in Haiti, cash donations are best. To help right now, go to www.foodforthepoor.org/haitirelief.

"Food For The Poor has stood by Haiti's side since 1986 and we are committed to seeing them through this upheaval with every resource we have available," Raine said.
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.

Michael Turnbell

Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6054