The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti said "immediate" food assistance must be provided to more than 500,000 people, including 81,600 children suffering from acute malnutrition.

The mission, known as Minustah, blames the situation on crop destruction stemming from drought and Tropical Storms Isaac and Sandy, which brought strong winds and flooding to the Caribbean nation last year.

Minustah said in a report that food insecurity affects 2.1 million Haitians but that 500,000 of these people require immediate attention, adding that $144 million must be invested in 2013 to meet those needs.

The document said that 81,600 children aged five years or younger suffer from acute malnutrition and that 20,000 of them suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition.

It noted that some 358,000 people still living in refugee camps set up after the devastating earthquake of early 2010 face deteriorating living conditions and are more vulnerable to natural disasters.

Minustah also warned about recurrent outbreaks of cholera among the displaced population. EFE