UN starts ticket-for-food program in Haiti

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Up to 2.4 million Haitians will get food rations from the World Food Program (WFP) which is organizing a 15-day emergency ticket-for-food program in the Haitian capital.

More than a dozen distribution spots will be set up in the city to facilitate the project, a WFP spokesperson said on Saturday.

"We will be forming 16 fixed distribution sites around the city. We aim to reach 10,000 people at each site," said Marcus Pryor.

The UN body has so far provided food to around 650,000 Haitians in the 18 days after the killer earthquake hit the Caribbean island country on Jan. 12.

The Haitian authorities said that the magnitude-7.3 quake has destroyed the country's food supply system.

Feeding an entire city of millions of people is unusual to the WFP, which is more used to providing food to refugees displaced by conflicts and wars.

"Each family will be allotted 60 pounds (27 kg) of rice. Only female heads of household will be allowed into the distribution area to bring the food out," the WFP spokesperson said. "We will be loading and transporting during the night because of the dense population and traffic within Port-au-Prince."

The WFP on Saturday already started issuing food ration tickets through non-governmental organizations and the tickets will be used to trade for food on Sunday.

The same procedure will be repeated on daily basis and at the end of the 15 days, the WFP will re-assess the situation to see if it is reaching those most in need.

The Haitian capital experienced chaos in the last couple of weeks when hungry crowds overwhelmed Uruguayan Air Force and Brazilian Army food distributors.

The United Nations said that such chaos occur when available food greatly undershoots the number of people arriving for it.

The WFP's 15-day ticket-for-food program beginning on Sunday is expected to speed up the pace of food distribution in the city by four folds.

"There could also be a drop in food prices with this in operation, which will of course help those worst hit by this (food) crisis," Pryor said.

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