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International Assistance Sought For Hurricane Relief Efforts In Haiti

The U.N. food relief agency joined Haiti's government on Tuesday in appealing for $74 million in additional international aid to help the country's agricultural sector recover from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the Caribbean nation two weeks ago.

"The recent natural disasters in Haiti require the robust response of the international community to support ongoing Government efforts," Adam Yao, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Senior Emergency Coordinator in Haiti, said in a news release.

The FAO noted that superstorm Sandy had caused serious damage to Haiti's crops, land, livestock, fisheries and rural infrastructures. The storm also killed 60 people and damaged hundreds of homes and farms, leaving more than 600,000 Haitians at risk of food and nutrition insecurity.

Hurricane Sandy was the third disaster to hit Haiti in recent months. The Caribbean nation was struck by severe drought at the beginning of the critical spring cropping season between May and June. It was followed by Tropical Storm Isaac, which hit the nation in August.

The FAO said the three disasters affected the livelihoods of at least 1.5 million people in Haiti, and added that their combined impact on the agricultural sector has been estimated by the Haitian government at $254 million.

U.N. agencies and partners are currently conducting post-disaster assessments to get a clearer picture of the damage in order to initiate an appropriate response. FAO said it planned to join the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) in conducting helicopter surveys in regions that are not accessible by road.

Further, the U.N. humanitarian country team, the so-called Donors' Group Supporting Haiti and the country's government are discussing ways to respond to the crisis as well as addressing root causes of the country's vulnerability to recurrent natural disasters.

FAO said its ongoing programs on forestry, livestock production, watershed management and nutrition in Haiti could be upgraded to address the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy if required.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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