Haiti six months after the quake: risks, support and opportunities impact the lives of children in Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE/NEW YORK, 12 July 2010 – Six months after the strongest earthquake to hit Haiti in 200 years, the challenges to meet the needs of more than 800,000 affected children and their families remain daunting.
The earthquake left behind a death toll of over 220,000 persons and over 300,000 injured in an already fragile nation. Some two million persons have been displaced from their homes and some 1.6 million of them remain in overcrowded displacement camps. The country’s infrastructure, never strong, was devastated with 60 per cent of government infrastructure destroyed and over 180,000 homes uninhabitable.
The earthquake in Haiti was a disaster for children and it isn't over yet," said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. "UNICEF and its partners are working hard every day to save lives and help children claim their future."
Today, safe water is being provided to some 1.2 million people through our partnership with other aid organizations and UNICEF is directly providing water to 330,000. More than 275,000 children have been immunized against major vaccine preventable diseases. Nutrition programmes are providing food to some 550,000 people with special needs -- children under five and lactating women – and some 2000 children with severe acute malnutrition are now receiving life-saving therapeutic feeding and care. 500,000 children in total have received basic education materials, 185,000 children from UNICEF’s own programmes. And special training has been provided to some 2,300 teachers and 3,000 education personnel.
The education sector was hard hit by this disaster, with 3,978 schools damaged or destroyed -- 80 per cent of all schools in the earthquake zone. This has compounded an already fragile situation where less than half of school-aged children were attending school before the earthquake.
Three months ago, the Government with the support of UNICEF took up the challenge of getting all Haiti’s children into school. Temporary schools have been slowly restoring structure and stability to the lives of earthquake affected children and also providing a locus for other health and protection initiatives. The focus now is to expand access to learning opportunities for all children, particularly the hardest to reach, across the nation.
Accelerating site clearance, identifying solutions for relocation of displaced families occupying school grounds and speeding up school construction to ensure space is available before the next school year are both challenges and priorities for UNICEF and its partners. UNICEF is also working with the Government to alleviate the burden of school fees in a context where ninety per cent of schools are fee-based and not public.
Details of UNICEF’s assessment of conditions in Haiti and its activities since the earthquake are contained in a report, titled Children of Haiti: Milestones and looking forward at six months, launched in Geneva today.
UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.