Haiti: $720 million plan to support millions facing gangs, hunger and cholera

A woman in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, carries water she has bought from a local trader.

[UN News] The UN and partners are appealing for $720 million to support more than three million people in Haiti, where gangs, hunger, and cholera have plunged nearly half the population into humanitarian need. 

The 2023 funding appeal is the largest for the Caribbean country since the devastating 2010 earthquake and more than double the amount requested last year. 

The UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) said the number of Haitians who require aid to survive doubled over the past five years to 5.2 million, and the aim is to reach 60 per cent, or 3.2 million people.

The full 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan, which will be launched on 19 April, comes at “a critical time”, said Ulrika Richardson, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti. 

“With the situation in the country rapidly deteriorating, this year’s plan will address the most immediate humanitarian and protection needs while strengthening people’s and institution’s resilience to natural shocks,” she said. 

“At the same time, what the people of Haiti desperately want is peace and security, and we should all support efforts to that end.” 

A key driver of the crisis is gang violence, which continues to spread across the country, OCHA said. An estimated 80 per cent of the metropolitan area of the capital, Port-au-Prince, is either under the control or the influence of gangs.  

“There is a constant climate of fear, especially in Port-au-Prince,” Ms. Richardson said. “Haitians put their lives at risk simply by trying to go to work, feed their families, or take their children to school.”  

Armed violence disproportionately impacts women and girls, but boys are also affected, OCHA reported. 

Rape, including gang rape, and other forms of sexual violence, is being used to terrorize the population, including children as young as age 10, the UN agency said. Meanwhile, many gangs also recruit children into their ranks.  

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