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UN Asks for $35 Million for Haiti

The United Nations on Tuesday issued an urgent appeal for emergency aid to Haiti to help Haitians who are affected by political turmoil.

The U.N. is asking donors for $35 million to help Haitians, in the wake of political chaos and violence that has engulfed the country over the past month. The money would fund humanitarian aid for six months, and help an estimated three million people, mostly women and children who depend on food aid for their daily needs.

Humanitarian aid has been disrupted in Haiti for more than a month, especially in the northern part of the country, where U.N. experts say it is needed most. U.N. food aid convoys have been attacked and looted, as armed gangs and rebels seized territory, and blocked the main north-south highway.

U.N. officials say they are planning to send a small food convoy north this week. Guy Gavreau, the World Food Program Director in Haiti, said he would like to see some of the multi-national troops in Haiti re-direct their priorities toward providing security for relief needs. "We are concerned that the humanitarian corridor is not considered a top priority by the military. They have other priorities, such as securing the capital city, and we are extremely worried that, if we are unable to reach the people, the situation will get worse and worse," he said.

U.N. officials say they are having discussions with the commanders of the multi-national forces, and they are optimistic that multi-national troops will soon be able to assist relief operations.

Multi-national force commanders in Haiti say their top priority at the moment is assisting Haiti's national police establish security in the capital, which has been hard hit by violence and looting for nearly two weeks. They say only when that objective is met will they be able to help relief agencies deliver humanitarian assistance.