Josette Sheeran, the director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), says the damage in Haiti resembles "a war zone, the war that happened in one minute." She arrived in the earthquake-ravaged country on Thursday to inspect the food relief effort.
Sheeran said, "This is one of the biggest scale emergency operations ever, but the magnitude of the need is so huge that we just have to figure out how to scale it up even more." She will remain in Haiti until Saturday working on organizing and escalating the food aid, before heading to Washington, D.C. to rally more support.
Food supply lines are the lifeline for Haitians right now. WFP is bringing in food via air and overland. Soon they will have special boats delivering food by sea and right onto the beaches. But once you get the supplies into Haiti, there is the challenge of roads blocked by rubble and food warehouses that are damaged.
Executive Director Josette Sheeran meets WFP staff in Port-Au-Prince. WFP is running a 6-month emergency operation to feed 2 million people in Haiti.
Despite the obstacles, WFP food deliveries continue to reach more people, including the most vulnerable of all, children. On Thursday, David Orr of WFP reported, "We have five pickups of food going around orphanages."
WFP has delivered four million meals to nearly 250,000 people in Haiti since the earthquake struck. The U.S. military is helping to quickly move food via helicopter. WFP is also beginning to distribute five-day rations to about 100,000 people a day.
The establishment of humanitarian hubs throughout Haiti will be vital for WFP's operation in the coming days. Catholic Relief Services has already helped WFP set up two of these hubs. Plans are also underway to meet the needs of people who leave the city to settle in camps.
Sheeran praised the work of her staff, many of whom were injured or lost their homes, in trying to provide life-saving food to Haitians.
On Friday night, the "Hope for Haiti" telethon fundraiser aired on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, and other networks. The World Food Programme is one of the beneficiaries of this fundraiser. The others are Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF, Yele Haiti Foundation, and the newly formed Clinton Bush Haiti Foundation.
Actor George Clooney organized the event and performers included Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Penelope Cruz, Drew Barrymore, Taylor Swift, and Sheryl Crow.
For WFP, the event is critical for raising the funds to cover its 279 million dollar, six-month emergency operation to feed Haiti. As last reported, WFP had collected 150 million from governments and 18 million from the private sector.
For more information, or to make a donation, you can visit the Hope for Haiti web site or call (877) 99-HAITI. For WFP food relief donations, you can also go to World Food Programme site or, if you are from the United States, go to Friends of the WFP.