UNV volunteers help respond to Haiti food crisis
Cite Soleil, Haiti: With the global food crisis occupying the headlines, UNV volunteers have been helping to manage emergency food distribution in Haiti.
UNV volunteers working with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) Community Violence Reduction section helped ensure that vital provisions were fairly and safely handed to the most needy. About 1,000 elderly and handicapped people benefited from the mid-April distribution, each receiving 12.5kg of rice and 10kg of beans. Other members of MINUSTAH also volunteered to assist people in carrying their allotted food rations.
Overseen by both UN and Haitian police, the event was organized through the Mayor's Office of Cite Soleil and passed off peacefully, with great satisfaction expressed by both the local population and the municipality. Earlier in April, the rising cost of staple foods had triggered violence in the capital Port-au-Prince, and international media reported that some Haitians unable to afford basic foods had resorted to eating dried mud.
The UNV volunteers’ primary mission in Haiti involves aiding the construction of a more stable political and institutional environment. UNV involvement has been integral to MINUSTAH since its inception in 2004, playing an important part in electoral support during 2006 when UNV volunteers were the only monitors operating in some areas of the country.
They have also been working to support the rule of law and strengthening the justice system by assisting Haitian judges and magistrates in improving legal procedures. UNV volunteers in the human rights section have been observing prison conditions and the application of the law in the penal system.
As well as collaborating with local institutions to improve security, UNV volunteers in Haiti have organized training for journalists and, via Radio MINUSTAH, are contributing to discussions on health, human rights and women's political involvement.
UNV volunteer Emmanuel Sannoh (here seen checking ration cards) is the team leader of the CVR section, and has served MINUSTAH since 2004. He formerly worked as a national UNV volunteer for the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). "Volunteering to save lives brings me personal satisfaction," he says.
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