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UN Plans Massive Food Supply Increase to Haiti

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The United Nations will soon start using massive 1,000 ton landers to bring food ashore in Haiti, where life is slowly returning to normal after January 12 earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, UN officials said on Tuesday.

World Food Program (WFP) spokesman Marcus Pryor told media that the agency now reaches 450,000 people and has delivered 10 million meals. The quake left 3 million people without homes in a nation of around 8 million people, many of them without access to food.

"No one more than us wishes we could reach more people faster," he said at a press briefing at the headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah). He said that the landers, three of which will begin working this week, will improve efforts in the nation where infrastructure, already shaky, was smashed by the quake, which killed at least 75,000 people.

"We are already using the sea ports in Port-au-Prince and Cap Hatien, food is coming in from the Dominican Republic by road, and arriving by air in Port-au-Prince and Barahona," he said. " Delivery systems will reach many more people in the next few days. "

The WFP's warehouses were destroyed in the quake, along with around 40 percent of Port-au-Prince's buildings and nearly 90 percent of those in Leogane, a largely agricultural town that was at the epicenter.

However, around 62,500 citizens moved to Artibonite, the state that includes Leogane, to avoid much more desperate food shortages in the capital.

According to Haitian government estimates, nearly 240,000 people have left for the countryside since the emergency started, an average of more than 18,000 a day. The exodus from the capital has slowed to around 1,000 people a day, Pryor added.

The WFP has also managed to secure warehousing space for 36,000 tons of food supplies, Pryor said. The whole of the WFP's warehouse space was destroyed on January 12.

(Xinhua News Agency January 27, 2010)