After January’s quake, humanitarian action in Haiti averts worse crisis for children, but much remains to be done
Port-au-Prince, 13 April 2010 - Three months after the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti and left its mark on over a million children, UNICEF today reports that the unprecedented humanitarian response has averted a worse crisis for children – but warns that there is much still to be done, not least as Haiti approaches the annual rainy season.
In its summary of activities after the 12 January quake – Children of Haiti: Three Months After the Earthquake – UNICEF notes that despite massive destruction and disruption to key services:
- there has been no significant disease outbreak or increase in malnutrition rates
- over a million affected people are receiving clean drinking water
- over 200,000 women and children are benefiting from selective feeding programmes
- mass vaccination campaigns have reached over 100,000 children to date
- residential child care centres hosting more than 25,000 children have been assessed and provided with urgent food and medicines to ensure wellbeing of children and
- schools have begun to open in temporary accommodation, with the provision of thousands of tents and hundreds of sets of learning and teaching materials.
However, the report also highlights key challenges in areas such as provision of sanitation, risks of violence against women and girls living in displacement camps, and the broader issue of much-reduced government and civil society capacity. Many government ministries and departments lost buildings, personnel and vital data.
UNICEF identifies urgent provision of improved shelter for displaced families, increased provision of basic services and strengthened protection of women and children as urgent priorities. UNICEF is working already with other organizations to support the safe relocation of families living in the most vulnerable camps to new locations ahead of the rainy season.
The report also calls for support for ‘transformative agenda’ for Haiti’s children, which places children at the centre of recovery and reconstruction efforts. In particular, UNICEF singles out tackling the trend of chronic malnutrition, creating a protective environment for children, and ensuring education for every child as critical priorities for the future development of the country.
These priorities, says the report, stand out as both urgent in the short term and essential to the progressive and full realization of rights by children.
Copies of Children of Haiti: Three Months After the Earthquake can be downloaded from http://unicef.ca.