By Spc. A. M. LaVeyFebruary 22, 2010
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Army News Service, Feb. 22, 2010) -- The World Food Program ended the interim stage of its food distribution program in Haiti Feb. 20.
Aca,!A"Over 19 million pounds of bulk food rations have been given out to about 2 million Haitians thus far,Aca,!A? said Col. Gregory Kane, director of operations, JTF-Haiti. Aca,!A"These are 14-day rations to families so that they donAca,!a,,ct have to worry about food day-to-day. It has been a very successful program.Aca,!A?
The international community and non-governmental organizations, working with JTF-H, are fairly practiced by now and they completed the most recent stage of the program, mostly without any issues - logistical or otherwise, Kane said.
Aca,!A"There were some glitches but the U.N., World Food Program and the NGOs have been very adaptive and quick to find them and provide solutions to overcome,Aca,!A? said Kane. Aca,!A"We anticipate that when they kick off this next phase of a structured feeding program March 1, that there will be very little required from the JTF-H.Aca,!A?
The JTF-H, currently with about 12,800 American servicemembers in Haiti, has been sharing the responsibility for the security of the food distribution points with the U.N. security forces.
Aca,!A"They have always been in the lead but we have been augmenting them,Aca,!A? said Kane. Aca,!A"Though humanitarian assistance and disaster relief is not what the U.N. forces are here for, they have been stepping up their support for these kinds of missions.Aca,!A?
All but one of the distribution points were jointly manned with security elements from both the U.N. and the JTF-H.
Aca,!A"We have been helping by securing certain distribution points that are outside the U.N.Aca,!a,,cs ability or those which have exceeded their capacity,Aca,!A? said Kane.
With civilian agencies, NGOs, and the government of Haiti picking up more of the responsibility of distribution and forward-looking planning elements, the need for military assistance has been progressively declining.
Aca,!A"We are waiting to find out the final requirements from the World Food Program, but initial planning states that the specific need from the JTF-H are significantly less than what we had provided in the first and interim phases,Aca,!A? said Kane.
In the initial phase of the food distribution program the JTF-H assisted with the security of all the sites. In the second portion of this phase, the JTF-H provided security at four points. In the next stage, further reductions are expected.
The JTF-H has also been working with the U.N., through the International Organization for Migration, to assist the people of Haiti, who have been displaced from their homes, with their need for shelter, especially as the rainy season approaches.
Aca,!A"The I.O.M. is going through and assessing what the equipments are and if they need assistance of the JTF-H distributing tents or shelters they will make that request,Aca,!A? said Kane. Aca,!A"We have assisted them by handing out tarps and transporting shelters.Aca,!A?
Though Aca,!A"we have received requests moving nonfood items to distribution points, the number of requests that we have received has continued to decline and that is natural,Aca,!A? said Kane. Aca,!A"The international community has mobilized.Aca,!A?
Because of the U.S. militaryAca,!a,,cs capabilities, Aca,!A"we were able to respond quickly, assisting with manpower, medical assistance, and rotary-wing aircraft,Aca,!A? said Kane. Aca,!A"Over the ensuing 41 days we have seen an increased capacity of NGOs distributing their own goods, weAca,!a,,cve seen the port come back and the airport arise from chaos to re-open.Aca,!A?
Aca,!A"We still have some unique capabilities that we provide, that the international community doesnAca,!a,,ct, so we will provide those as required,Aca,!A? said Kane. Aca,!A"We will remain here as long as the Haitian government needs us and wants us to be here, and as long as there is a mission here to be performed,Aca,!A? said Kane.