Haiti: WFP Battles To Overcome Logistical Challenges

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran talks to aid workers at the UN compound in Port-au-Prince.

(Copyright: WFP/Marco Frattini)

Haiti's devastated infrastructure make emergency operations in the quake-hit nation the most challenging that WFP has ever faced, Executive Director Josette Sheeran said here on Friday, during a three-day visit.

 PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haiti's devastated infrastructure make emergency operations there the most challenging that WFP has ever faced, Executive Director Josette Sheeran said here on Friday .

“This is the most complex operation WFP has ever been involved in. That’s why opening up the supply chain is so critical," said Sheeran, who was in Port-au-Prince to assess the situation on the ground following last week’s devastating earthquake. Latest on Haiti emergency operation

Sheeran  said more humanitarian flights were landing in Port-au-Prince every day and that WFP was opening up five “humanitarian corridors” for aid into Haiti.

Special boats

She also noted that the UN food agency is bringing in special boats that will be able to transport humanitarian aid by sea and land directly onto beaches.

"This operation is getting up to scale but we're having to rebuild  ports and airports,” Sheeran said, acknowledging what she called a “supply chain nightmare” for logistics staff in Haiti.

Sheeran noted that after the disaster every single entry route for people and goods was knocked out, communications were down, roads were blocked and WFP warehouses were destroyed.

2 million Haitians

WFP began distributing food assistance within 24 hours of the earthquake and has launched a US$279 million relief operation to reach 2 million Haitians as well as providing logistical and telecommunications support to the entire humanitarian community.

Since the earthquake struck,  WFP has distributed more than 1.5 million food rations to more than 250,000 people in and around Port-au-Prince.

During her three-day visit, Sheeran is travelling through the disaster zone to inspect food distributions and also meeting government and relief agency officials.

The WFP executive director praised the dedication of humanitarian workers in Haiti, saying they were working around the clock in tremendously difficult conditions.

Despite the amount of resources being poured into the Haiti operation, Sheeran said it was still not enough. “The magnitude of the need is so huge that we just have to figure out how to scale it up even more," she said.