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Cindy McCain says hunger in Haiti is ‘catastrophic’ amid gang violence

Cindy McCain, the executive director of the United Nations’s World Food Program (WFP), sounded the alarm on hunger in Haiti as gang violence rages on in the Caribbean nation.

“It’s catastrophic. We … WFP are still in there, and we are working in the north somewhat and somewhat down towards the center, but it’s a very dicey situation,” McCain said Sunday during an interview on CBS News’s “Face The Nation.” “We are continuing our school feeding programs, but once again, as you’ve seen, there have been evacuations of U.N. personnel out of there.”

Haiti is in crisis after rival street gangs took control of several parts of the nation, including in the neighborhood surrounding the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. 

The violence prompted Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign earlier this month upon the creation of a transitional presidential council. The council’s creation followed a meeting with Caribbean leaders and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jamaica, where they agreed to a joint proposal for the council.

The gangs have continued to perpetrate violence despite Henry’s resignation, with some blocking distribution routes and preventing civilians from receiving food, water and other resources.

McCain, who was married to the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), noted the emergency in Haiti is a “man-made crisis,” rather than one caused by a natural disaster.

“It’s just, again, this is a diplomatic solution. This is a man-made crisis, and we need a diplomatic solution to it, and we need it now. We need it right now,” she said.

An estimated 1.4 million Haitians were reported to be on the verge of famine, and more than 4 million require food aid, The Associated Press (AP) reported, citing aid groups. Some civilians are eating only once a day, or not at all, the news wire added.

Jean-Martin Bauer, Haiti director for the United Nations’s World Food Program, told the AP the nation is “facing a protractive and mass hunger,” and that Croix-des-Bouquets, in the eastern part of Haiti’s capital, “has malnutrition rates comparable with any war zone in the world.”

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