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GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations appealed for $119 million on Monday to bring life-saving assistance to 750,000 people in southwestern Haiti, which is reeling from a direct hit by Hurricane Matthew.
The money will go to provide food, clean drinking water and shelter to the most vulnerable among 1.4 million people in need, after large areas of crops were destroyed and infrastructure was damaged last week, the U.N. said in the three-month appeal to donors.
"Hurricane Matthew has resulted in the largest humanitarian crisis in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, at a time when the country is already facing an increase in the number of cholera cases and severe food insecurity and malnutrition," it said.
Haiti started burying some of its dead in mass graves after Hurricane Matthew, a government official said on Sunday, as cholera spread in the devastated southwest and the death toll from the storm rose to 1,000 people.
"This is not a population on its knees, but on the ground," Pierre-Andre Dunbar, Haiti's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, told a news briefing.
"Crops were also destroyed, which means the country will face a severe famine as the southwestern peninsula is considered the breadbasket of Haiti," he said.
In the Grande'Anse region on Haiti's western peninsula, some villages and towns suffered 90 percent destruction with low-income housing particularly affected, said Rudolph Muller of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"Needs may grow in the days ahead as more areas are reached," he said.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Tom Miles, Larry King