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Haiti faces food shortage in Sandy’s wake

Patients diagnosed with cholera receive treatment at a medical centre run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) outside of Port-au-Prince November 1, 2012. The centre has seen an increase in the number of patients being admitted to the hospital since Hurricane Sandy tore through the Caribbean nation last Friday killing 52 people and causing widespread damage to crops and infrastructure.

Swoan Parker/Reuters

Impoverished Haiti, still recovering from the 2010 earthquake, now has a million-plus people who cannot get enough to eat because of damage from Hurricane Sandy, the United Nations says.

The storm killed more than 50 people in Haiti as it churned through the Caribbean last week on its way to a deadly and destructive blast along the U.S. East Coast.

Relief workers are still trying to make a full assessment of Sandy's ugly footprint on Haiti. But for now it is known the storm destroyed, damaged or flooded the homes of up to 20,000 people, said Johan Peleman, head of the UN relief office in Haiti, in comments published Friday on the UN website.

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Northern Haiti endured a long drought this year and took a hit from Hurricane Isaac in August. Now there are fears that harvests being collected in the south of the country have been destroyed by Sandy.

"With the south being hit now, we are going to face in the next couple of months very serious problems of malnutrition and food insecurity," Mr. Peleman said on UN Radio.

The grim picture comes as much of the world's attention is focused on the deaths and spectacular damage wrought by Sandy in the United States.

In Haiti, there were still 350,000 people living in tent camps set up after the 2010 earthquake. They were evacuated before Sandy but the storm destroyed much of the fragile housing in those camps, the official added.

In other new woes for the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Sandy rendered roads unusable so it is hard to reach people in need, and water holes and sanitation systems need to be drained to prevent outbreaks of water-borne diseases, mainly cholera. That disease is endemic in Haiti and a rise in cases is expected, Mr. Peleman said.

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe issued an appeal for international aid Wednesday. He said the agricultural sector alone suffered more than $104-million in losses.

Haiti is still rebuilding after the massive 2010 earthquake that levelled much of the capital, left hundreds of thousands homeless and killed more than 200,000 people.

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