Thursday, 2 October 2008

Thieves steal donated food in Haiti (IHT)

Food donated for Haitian storm victims was stolen and put up for sale, according to authorities who seized three storehouses full of illegally diverted food aid Tuesday.
In the western city of Carrefour, Mayor Yvon Jerome said authorities acted after residents complained about the sale of donated rice.
"A lot of people were buying the rice because it was much cheaper compared to prices on the regular market," Jerome told Reuters. "You can read on the bag 'Donated by Taiwan' and on some other bags we read 'U.S. Rice.'"
The storehouses full of stolen food were placed under seal and the food will be redistributed to the needy, said Jerome, who called the diversion of desperately needed aid an outrage against humanity.
"There are so many people starving and desperate for that food," said Jerome. "And to see people that are better off trying to steal it goes against all sense of humanity and charity."
Haiti was hit by four tropical storms and hurricanes -- Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike -- in about a month. The storms triggered flooding and mudslides that killed at least 800 people, including 534 in the hardest-hit northern town of Gonaives, which was almost entirely submerged.
The Haitian government, donor countries and humanitarian groups are struggling to feed hundreds of thousands of flood victims in dire need of help.
Judicial authorities were looking for several suspects in connection with the depots in Carrefour, which neighbours the capital of Port-au-Prince, but it was unclear how widespread such thefts were.
The World Food Program said the misery index is rising daily in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, and the situation will require a massive effort to help people stave off hunger and save lives.

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