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UN food agencies supply food, aid after Haiti's Agriculture Ministry looted

17 March 2004 As United Nations agencies reported that Haiti's basic services were being restored, one UN food agency said the Ministry of Agriculture was "totally looted" in the outbursts of violence that surrounded the 29 February departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and another distributed tons of food to northern schools.

The Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Haiti, Reginald Dumas, who is in charge of peacekeeping and helping to make long-term national political plans, was attending the inauguration of a new cabinet, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said. Its members were chosen by Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, who was sworn in on 12 March.

Mr. Dumas met Interim President Boniface Alexandre yesterday.

In response to a question at the daily press briefing, Mr. Eckhard said he was not sure of the legal path followed by Haiti, given that its constitution called for a Parliament, which was currently not functional, to approve a change of President. There had been no effort by the new government to withdraw the UN credentials of the existing Permanent Representative at the UN, he added.

Meanwhile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that the Agriculture Ministry had been emptied, he said. FAO has launched an appeal for $4 million to help Haiti's small farmers.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), having started to receive containers of food from seaports, said it had delivered 20 tons of food to schools in northern Cap Haitien and was sending another 70 tons of supplies to the area today, he said.

The UN humanitarian assessment mission went yesterday to Saint Marc, 90 kilometres north of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and reported that commerce and the supplying of basic services were slowly resuming, while the capital's port was now considered secure, Mr. Eckhard said.

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