World Food Programme begins food distribution for women only


Port-au-Prince (Haiti) : The UN World Food Programme Sunday began giving food to victims of Haiti’s devastating earthquake at special distribution points only for women.

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Soldiers from the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSTAH, the US military and Haitian police are supervising the distribution, which is designed to prevent violence and ensure food reaches the greatest number of needy Haitians.

Strong groups of young men have overwhelmed some past efforts, carrying off most of the food, and troops have occasionally had to fire warning shots at aid drops.

Sixteen such distribution points have been set up around the capital Port-au-Prince. Coupons are given to women and are good for 25-kg sacks of rice. Some two million people are to be fed through the effort.

Some Haitians have criticised the heavy security presence at food distribution points, saying it aggravates the crowd.

Also Sunday, the White House said US military evacuation flights of wounded Haitians to the US would resume.

“Having received assurances that additional capacity exists both here and among our international partners, we determined that we can resume these critical flights,” spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.

The flights were suspended Wednesday over concerns about strain on hospitals in Florida, coordination and who would pay for the medical care of evacuated Haitians in state hospitals.

The Haitian government has confirmed 180,000 deaths in the Jan 12 quake and as many as 200,000 injured.