OUT-OF-CONTROL gang violence has created a humanitarian crisis in Haiti that the UN aims to help alleviate through the creation of an airbridge with the neighbouring Dominican Republic.

The UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) said that the air corridor will enable the transport of aid and ensure the safe relocation of staff both in and out of the country.

Speaking to reporters in New York on Thursday, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said plans are being made for an aircraft to transport supplies and accommodate staff movements.

On the ground, relief agencies remain deeply concerned about the welfare of civilians reliant on aid. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 400 incidents hampering access have been recorded across the country since the start of 2024, including more than 70 in the first week of March.

The situation remains unstable in the Caribbean island nation following the recent resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, particularly in the communes of Carrefour, Port-au-Prince and Cité Soleil, while the airport, schools and health facilities remain closed in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

According to the UN migration agency, IOM, 362,000 people are displaced in Haiti, including 15,000 newly homeless in Port-au-Prince. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has delivered 75,000 meals to people affected by the recent violence.

Some 5.5 million people – almost half the population – need humanitarian aid. But the UN’s 2024 humanitarian appeal for $674 million is funded at just 3.2 per cent. Funding shortages are threatening aid efforts on the ground, Dujarric said in his briefing at UN Headquarters, adding that WFP will soon be forced to stop serving hot meals to those who urgently need food due to a lack of funds. “We have colleagues who remain on the ground at great personal risk, feeding people”, he said, noting that WFP was able to provide 13,000 hot meals to those recently displaced by the violence on Wednesday. He said at least $10 million is needed immediately to continue such emergency assistance, according to WFP.

Flights from the Dominican Republic are now being planned, Dujarric said. An aircraft will deliver aid and emergency crisis coordination specialists while evacuating some non-essential UN employees. The staff movement reflects a reconfiguration of the UN presence in Haiti that is underway to replace non-essential staff with experts, he added..

As for the security crisis, Dujarric said a lack of funding is a major obstacle to deploying the multinational support mission that the Security Council approved in October. “We’re not getting the money we need for that mission to be put together”, he said, adding that there is only $10 million in the fund when much more is required.

* Source: United Nations