Haiti Looting Caused $6m Loss in Relief Supplies, WFP Says

A man runs with looted goods near cars on fire during protests over rising fuel prices and crime as inflation surged to its highest in a decade, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti September 14, 2022. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol/File Photo
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Sept 26 (Reuters) – Looting in Haiti this month led to the loss of at least $6 million of relief assistance including 2,000 tonnes of food, a World Food Programme official said on Monday, as the Caribbean nation struggles with civil unrest and chronic gang violence.

Protests flared across Haiti following Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s Sept. 11 announcement of a fuel price increase, triggering protests and street violence that included the sacking of WFP warehouses.

“Over the course of one week, WFP in Haiti lost one third of our food stocks as two of our four warehouses were deliberately targeted, looted and pillaged,” said Valerie Guarnieri, WFP deputy executive director during a meeting of the UN Security Council.

“We estimate that at least six million dollars worth of relief supplies were lost,” said Guarnieri, adding that the looting affected other non-profit organizations and UN agencies.

Haiti’s government this month moved to cut fuel subsidies, citing their high cost, triggering outrage in a nation already struggling with record-high inflation.

Several days after that announcement, gangs blocked the Varreux fuel terminal by digging trenches and filling nearby streets with empty shipping containers, preventing fuel distribution trucks from approaching the facility.

Gangs have been blocking roads from the capital toward the country’s rural provinces for months, upending day-to-day activities in the country and complicating efforts by aid agencies to distribute food to the nation’s poorest.

“Under such conditions, basic rights – from freedom of movement to education – are being catastrophically undermined,” said Helen La Lime, head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, during the same session.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Stephen Coates
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