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The food crisis in Haiti seems to be getting worse. The Associated Press reports that aid organizations said Sunday they feared the nutritional crisis could deepen in this poor Island nation. The majority of Haitians subsist on less than $2 a day and the rising prices have impacted nearly the entire population.
Earlier in the week, protesters called for the resignation of Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis, who many blame for the crisis. On Saturday, Haiti’s parliament sacked the Prime Minister, although the protesters also wanted President Rene Preval out of office. 16 of Haiti’s 27 senators voted to oust Alexi. About two dozen Aristide supporters rallied outside Parliament, chanting, “Aristide or death!
Preval responded by announcing subsidies to lower the price of rice by 15 per cent. The problems, though, will not be fixed with these short term fixes. There are systemic problems in the Haitian economy, which have created a dependence on foreign food imports.
Haiti imports almost all its food and global food prices have risen 40 percent since mid-2007. Locally, the prices of rice and pasta have doubled in parts of the capital of Haiti, a country where 2.4 million people already cannot afford the minimum daily calories recommended by the World Health Organization.
A week of hunger-provoked protests and looting have already left seven people dead, including a Nigerian officer with the 9,000-member U.N. police force who was pulled from a car and killed Saturday afternoon. Three Sri Lankan peacekeepers on patrol were injured by gunfire earlier in the week.
Meanwhile, the search is on for a new Prime Minister and as is tradition in Haiti, Alexis will serve until his replacement is found. To mitigate the crisis, the World Bank announced recently that it plans to give $10 million in emergency aid to Haiti. As I noted in my previous post about Bangladesh, the current crisis is raising alarm among the developed world as well. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund has made clear that rising prices for wheat, corn and soybeans could wipe out a decade of progress in the developing world.
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