UN continues aid deliveries despite Haiti gangs targeting schools, health centers


Armed members of 'G9 and Family' march in a protest against Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sept. 19, 2023. [AP Photo]

UN humanitarians said on Thursday they continue to deliver aid, with their partners, to Haitians despite the upsurge in deadly gang violence that even targets schools and health facilities.

"Our response continues even as the situation on the ground remains tense and volatile," said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). "Schools and students in Port-au-Prince are paying a heavy price because of the ongoing violence."

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) condemns an arson attack on a school that took place on Monday, depriving over 1,000 children of their right to education. It estimates that more than 1,000 schools have closed or suspended classes due to recent violence and insecurity.

The fund reports that the health sector has been severely impacted, with at least half of all health facilities in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area either closed or severely disrupted.

UNICEF and its partners have conducted more than 700 medical consultations in displacement sites over the last two weeks. Between March 18 and 25, the fund said it provided psychosocial support to more than 600 children at displacement sites.

The World Food Programme (WFP) continues its daily hot meal program for displaced people in Port-au-Prince, reaching the largest number of people in a single day on Wednesday. The agency distributed 22,000 meals.

"Thanks to our local partners, the WFP was able to access 10 new sites for displaced people," the agency said. "Since early March, WFP and its partners have reached more than 54,000 displaced people with more than 263,000 hot meals in 38 different sites."

Also, since early March, more than 2 million liters of drinking water were distributed by WFP's partners, reaching 60,000 displaced people in some 29 sites.

WFP reported it has been able to leverage donors' support to continue hot-meals distributions in the short term. However, WFP's emergency assistance is threatened for the next few months without ongoing support.

The agency said it requires 61 million U.S. dollars over the next six months for its emergency activities, including hot-meals distributions. The overall funding gap is about 103 million dollars for the next six months.

OCHA said recent events are curtailing people's access to essential social services. The violence is also hampering aid operations, including access to a port where there are humanitarian supplies that remain at risk of being looted.

"As we have said many times, we need safe and unhindered access to those in need, as well as urgent and flexible funding," said Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. "The Humanitarian Response Plan for Haiti, which calls for 674 million U.S. dollars, is currently only 6.6 percent funded, which means that we have only 45 million dollars in the till."

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva said on Thursday that more than 1,500 people in Haiti were killed in gang violence this year.