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  • Since February, Haiti has been the scene of massive and deadly protests by demonstrators demanding the resignation of the president.

    Since February, Haiti has been the scene of massive and deadly protests by demonstrators demanding the resignation of the president. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 November 2019

More than three million Haitians need urgent food assistance, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said earlier this month.

Amid two months-long massive anti-government protests in Haiti, the country’s president Jovenel Moise said Friday in an interview with Reuters that his country needs urgent international support to face the developing humanitarian crisis.

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“We are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis,” Moise said in the interview that was given in his home in the wealthy neighborhood of Petionville, overlooking the capital Port-au-Prince and the Caribbean sea. “We need international support to get through this crisis.”

More than three million Haitians need urgent food assistance, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said earlier this month.

Moise said his administration had written to United States President Donald Trump last month to ask for aid and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) accepted to provide 2,000 tonnes of food aid to address urgent needs.

The opposition has been accusing the U.S., which has frequently decided the fate of the Caribbean nation’s politics, of backing up Moise and not listening to the people.

The Haitian president also said he was having closed-door talks with civil society organizations and the private sector, as well as radical and moderate members of the opposition in an attempt to create a government of unity and find a way out to the political crisis endured by the already extremely vulnerable country.

However, Reuters reported that the head of state would not give any further detail and say with whom he was negotiating as Haiti’s opposition parties have for months said the time for dialogue is over, and two of the most prominent opposition leaders, Andre Michel and Moise Jean Charles, as well as the spokesman of the Episcopal Conference Father Loudeger Mazile, said they were not participating in the conversations and did not know of any significant figure or group that was.

Fuel shortages in August sparked protests that have morphed into a fierce campaign against Moise, and led to the closure of schools, several hospitals, and has impeded the delivering of humanitarian aid to vulnerable sectors.

While turnout in what has become the country's longest wave of demonstrations in years has slightly weakened since the last two weeks, the opposition is calling for a nationwide protest on Monday, a bank holiday that commemorates a major battle of Haiti’s independence war. 

Since February, Haiti has been the scene of massive and deadly protests by demonstrators demanding the resignation of the president and his administration amid major corruption allegations. 

When the country was already dealing with a tense economic crisis and high inflation, a report was published accusing Moise and dozens of officials of having embezzled US$2 billion from Petrocaribe, the cut-price-oil aid program that Venezuela offered to several Caribbean countries, among them Haiti. 

The funds were meant to finance infrastructure development along with health, education and social programs across the impoverished nation. The president has since refused to step down and Congress has been three-times unable to push forward his resignation.

The Carribean island of 11 million people has been struggling for decades to overcome extreme poverty along with widespread corruption. These last ten years were particularly harsh for Haiti, which went through one of the world's deadliest earthquakes in 2010, an epidemic of cholera, brought in accidentally by United Nations peacekeepers, and Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. 

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