Police recover hijacked cargo ship carrying food aid for Haiti

April 10, 2024 by No Comments

Gangs in Haiti continue to pose an immense threat to international aid workers and Haitians, though food assistance and humanitarian support continues to pour into the country. The United Nations on Monday said some 500,000 hot meals had been served to more than 76,000 internally displaced people since early March, and 4 million liters of drinking water had been distributed to more than 60,000 people. There have been efforts to supply aid to internally displaced people in Port-au-Prince and areas outside the capital. But gangs are countering these measures as seen in a shootout between Haitian police and gang members after they hijacked a cargo ship carrying 60,000 pounds of rice. The Haitian National Police agency said two gangs dubbed the 5 Seconds and the Taliban gang were responsible for a hijacking Thursday as the cargo ship Magalie attempted to depart from the port of Varreux in the capital city on its way up to the northern coastal city of Cap-Haitien.Two police officers were injured, and an unconfirmed number of gang members were killed in the shootout off the coast of Port-au-Prince.Some 10,000 bags of rice were reportedly stolen in the seizure, The Associated Press first reported. The extreme violence in Haiti increasingly garnered international attention last year after gangs united under an unprecedented alliance and have since looked to take control of the capital city.Though they have not gained complete control over the city, they have continued to wreak havoc on citizens, heavily targeting police forces, government agencies and once quiet suburban areas. The chaos that has ensued has prompted international aid groups and private entities to band together to provide much needed aid to Haiti as food insecurity soars. On Monday, Goya Foods and The Jack Brewer Foundation began airlifting thousands of pounds of non-perishable food items like rice, beans, coconut water and various canned goods to remote areas in Haiti to reach “children and families in dire need of assistance and rescue,” Goya Foods said in a statement obtained by Digital. “As a company committed to giving back to our communities, it is our duty to provide aid to those most vulnerable, and we are grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of these children,” Bob Unanue, president and CEO of Goya Foods said. Jack Brewer, chairman of the foundation that has worked in Haiti since 2010, has explained the effect that a series of natural disasters, a failing economy, the COVID pandemic and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021 has had on the nation. Over the last few weeks, Brewer’s organization has also helped evacuate 150 Americans trapped in Haiti following the gang takeover and airport closures. “We extend our deepest gratitude to Goya Foods for their invaluable partnership in aiding both the Americans stuck in Haiti and the people of Haiti during this dire time,” he told Digital. “Their generous support, including funding a mission to evacuate six Americans and providing thousands of pounds of food assistance to orphans and the most vulnerable Haitians, is instrumental in combating malnutrition amidst the turmoil caused by gangs in the country.” Brewer explained that, like most missions in Haiti, the food airlifts were no easy feat to plan as he had to ensure not only that the food is delivered to those most in need, but that the crew helping to deliver the assistance is kept safe. Three food delivery missions are expected to be completed between Monday and Wednesday.