U.N. Says Haitian Looters Stole $6 Million in Supplies from World Food Program

PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI - SEPTEMBER 13: People take part in a protest against the rising gas
Georges Harry Rouzier/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said on Monday at least $6 million worth of relief supplies were lost to looters in Haiti in the month of September alone.

Haitian Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus urged the U.N. Security Council to apply sanctions against the leaders of criminal gangs running wild in his country.

The WFP said its warehouses were ransacked after Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced steep fuel price increases on September 11, triggering massive riots. Henry said the price of gas, which is controlled by the government, had to be doubled because the government could no longer afford subsidies to keep it low. 

Violent protests erupted in the streets, featuring roadblocks made from burning tires and miscellaneous debris. Demonstrators also objected to Haiti’s 30 percent inflation and soaring crime rate. The protests unfortunately provided cover for even more criminality.

“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. We estimate that at least six million dollars worth of relief supplies were lost,” WFP Deputy Executive Director Valerie Guarnieri told the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

Guarnieri said other U.N. agencies and non-profit organizations suffered significant losses from looting as well.

“The situation in Haiti has regrettably reached new levels of despair,” she said, grimly predicting the number of Haitians facing “acute food insecurity” would surpass the previous record of 4.5 million.

U.N. Special Representative to Haiti Helen La Lime said at least 2,000 tonnes of food aid were stolen or destroyed, enough food to have “supported up to 200,000 of the most vulnerable Haitians.”

La Lime reported a “state of siege” at the Varreux fuel terminal in Port-au-Prince, as criminal gangs completely took over the area for much of September, blocking roads and even digging trenches for their fighters. She said hospitals are shutting down due to a lack of fuel.

The Associated Press

Protesters build a road barricade during a protest to demand that Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry step down and call for a better quality of life, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

“An economic crisis, a gang crisis and a political crisis have converged into a humanitarian catastrophe,” she said.

Geneus told the Security Council that violence is now “generally under control” except for “isolated cases.” He requested international support for the Haitian police to keep the gangs under control.

Gang-caused fuel shortages were still a major problem and could “cause the loss of 12,000 jobs” because they forced Haiti’s largest industrial park to shut down, according to Geneus.

Geneus supported a draft resolution introduced by the United States and Mexico to impose sanctions against gang leaders, calling it “a real step in the right direction to bring an end to the phenomenon of insecurity in the country.”

“With our efforts combined, we can send a clear and powerful message to those who seek to undermine the security of everyday Haitians: You will not succeed,” U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis said of the draft resolution.

Mexican Ambassador Juan Ramon de la Fuenta Ramirez said it was also important to halt “the illicit trafficking of weapons which are used by gangs and criminal groups to terrorize civilians.”

China, which almost always opposes and seeks to undermine sanctions, made a rare exception to support the Haiti resolution.

“Council Resolution 2645 expresses its readiness to take appropriate measures that could include asset freeze or travel ban measures against those engaged in or supporting gang violence. Given the current situation in the country, it is necessary for the council to translate this readiness into action,” Chinese Deputy Ambassador Geng Shuang said.

Geng advised the U.N. mission in Haiti to prepare a list of gang leaders to be targeted for sanctions and submit it to the Security Council for review.


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