Ashley School Project
Hungry mob attacks Haiti palace

Crowds of demonstrators in Haiti have tried to storm the presidential palace in the capital Port-au-Prince as protests continue over food prices. Witnesses say the protesters used metal bins to try to smash down the palace gates before UN troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them. Several people are reported to have been injured in the clashes. At least five people have been killed in Haiti since the unrest began last week in the southern city of Les Cayes. The demonstrators outside the presidential palace said the rising cost of living in Haiti meant they were struggling to feed themselves.

Global Hunger

On World Food Day in 2007, the early warning signs that something serious was about to happen to food prices were already apparent. Crop forecasts from big producers at opposite ends of the world last October - Canada and Australia - were disastrous. Both countries were in the grip of drought. A steady rise in food prices began, spurred by oil price rises that were the most rapid since the early 1970s, knocking on to higher transport costs and fertiliser prices for food producers. Bioenergy: Fuelling the food crisis? Global Hunger Index in full The unprecedented spike in food price rises in January was led by steadily increasing demand, particularly from hundreds of millions of newly rich in the rapidly growing economies of Asia, who wanted to eat better food than their parents had been able to afford. As the food price shock took hold, there were riots worldwide - the government fell in Haiti - and a prompt return to protectionist policies as 40 countries imposed special measures to try to protect both their farmers, and those who could no longer afford to eat.

Where is Haiti
  • Map Violence in Haiti has often been linked to poverty with more than half the population surviving on less than a dollar a day.
  • Haiti was the world's first black republic and the first Caribbean state to achieve independence, but decades of violence, instability, dictatorship and coups have left it the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. Hundreds killed in political violence Riots over rising food prices. It is ranked 146th in the U.N. Development Programme's 2007/08 Human Development Index. One of highest HIV infection rates in the Americas
  • The Haiti Government website is run by its embassy in Washington. Fairly dry as you might expect, the site carries official statements in French and English. Perhaps most usefully, it has a list of government ministers with telephone numbers.
  • Quick Fact:
    Haiti is one of three countries in the world that share the largest daily caloric deficit - 460 calories per day below the daily requirement of 2,100 calories per day, according to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP). Nearly a quarter of children are chronically malnourished, WFP says.
    Violent protests against rocketing food prices and the rising cost of living erupted in the spring of 2008. Aid agency Oxfam said prices had doubled or tripled in the previous two months, leaving many Haitians increasingly hungry.
Know you're eating dirt:
In Haiti, one in five children is chronically malnourished, the one business booming amid all the gloom is the selling of patties made of mud, oil and sugar, typically only consumed by the most destitute. "It's salty and it has butter and you don't know you're eating dirt," said Olwich Louis Jeune, 24, who has taken to eating them more often in recent months. "It makes your stomach quiet down." View Mud cookies