ROME -- WFP is mobilising all available resources to bring urgently needed food assistance to thousands of people affected by the devastating earthquake which hit the Caribbean island of Haiti on Monday. As well as causing widespread death and destruction, the quake has left thousands of people hungry.
WFP is well positioned to respond to the emergency as it already has stocks of food pre-positioned in the country. In the initial phase of the operation, WFP will distribute nutritious high energy biscuits, which require no cooking.
In addition, we will airlift 86 metric tons of food from our emergency hub in El Salvador. This will allow us to feed 30,000 people in urgent need for food for up to seven days. WFP emergency staff will also be deployed to the affected areas.
The quake, measuring 7 on the Richter scale, struck about 15km (10 miles) south-west of the capital Port-au-Prince, at 16.53 local time and was followed by several aftershocks.
Although no official figures are yet available, hundreds of people are feared dead and many more injured. WFP is making an immediate assessment about the scale of the needs in Haiti. Every indication suggests that a massive emergency response will be necessary.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement released Tuesday night: "My heart goes out to the people of Haiti after this devastating earthquake. I am receiving initial reports and following developments closely."
The quake, Haiti's worst in two centuries, has destroyed or wrecked thousands of buildings in and around the capital, leaving a large number of people homeless. At present many parts of the capital are without power or telecommunications links.
WFP is asking the international community for urgent help to assist Haiti, a country where 1.8 million people were already food insecure before the earthquake and it is also the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.
Haiti was devastated by a series of hurricanes in 2008 that lefts hundreds of people dead and millions of dollars in damages.