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UNICEF working with partners for children and families in Haiti

2010-01-21

TORONTO, 22 January 2010 – Just over one week since the devastating earthquake in Haiti, UNICEF continues to coordinate and deliver humanitarian relief efforts as the designated lead agency responsible for water and sanitation, nutrition, child protection and education. Child protection specialists on the ground are also working to address the growing concerns for children separated from families who face increased risks of malnutrition and disease, trafficking, sexual exploitation and serious emotional trauma.

“UNICEF’s immediate priority is to ensure that the urgent needs of children and families in Haiti are met in these first days and weeks following the earthquake,” said Nigel Fisher, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada. “This work is extremely important given the risks of aftershocks, life-threatening disease and child trafficking that threaten the well-being of children following this catastrophic disaster. Once we are satisfied that the situation is stabilizing, we will also turn our attention to the longer-term needs of Haiti’s children and families. We are extremely thankful for the continued support of Canadians to help Haitian children beyond immediate survival towards a better future.”

UNICEF has been on the ground in Haiti since 1949. The UNICEF team in Port-au-Prince was equipped to provide an immediate emergency response when the earthquake occurred.

Ten days on, UNICEF’s humanitarian response to the Haiti earthquake addresses several key areas of relief:

  • Water and Sanitation: Over 30 distribution sites for water have been erected with water trucks with a total capacity to provide water to 80,000 people with plans to upscale to 150,000 people. Water tanks have been set up in each zone of the city and 7,000 bottles of water are being distributed to local hospitals, orphanages and police stations. Sanitation items for 60,000 people are also being distributed throughout each of the distribution points. Planning for latrine construction is underway.
  • Health: UNICEF specialists are supporting the Ministry of Health with immunization, monitoring of health centres and rapid assessment.
  • Child Protection: UNICEF provides rapid assessment and care for 2,000 children a day at 10 sites. Shelters are being reinforced and equipped to provide care for separated or unaccompanied children. A 24-hour help line has been established to assist with the identification and tracing of children. UNICEF is also working with partners to prohibit child transfers without appropriate documentation.
  • Nutrition: UNICEF has started to distribute (jointly with the WFP) ready-to-use therapeutic (RUTF) food, high-energy biscuits and vitamin A sprinkles. Approximately 270,000 sachets of RUTF are ready for transfer to Haiti to treat 1,800 children. UNICEF has commissioned production plants in the Dominican Republic to produce RUTF to meet the initial demands of 6,000 children and to supply food to 1,500 children on a weekly basis.
  • Education: Supplies have been imported for temporary schooling once child-friendly spaces for children are established.

UNICEF is appealing for US$128 million globally to support the emergency response in Haiti. To date, Canadian supporters have generously provided over $7 million for Haiti relief efforts and are developing creative, inspiring ways to get involved. UNICEF Canada Child Representative, Bilaal Rajan, has issued a challenge to his Canadian peers to each raise $100 for children affected by the earthquake.

The Government of Canada is contributing to the UNICEF international appeal by providing $15 million to UNICEF’s humanitarian assistance in Haiti, recognizing the organization as one of its vital United Nations partners.

Canadian television networks will also contribute to relief efforts by raising awareness and funds with a one-hour broadcast special, Canada for Haiti, on Friday January 22.  The special will be simulcast on CBC, CTV, Global Television, MTV, MuchMusic and the National Geographic Channel, with proceeds going towards UNICEF Canada and various humanitarian agencies responding to the Haiti disaster.

Donations to UNICEF Canada can be made online at www.unicef.ca or by calling 1-877-955-3111.

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About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Christopher Tidey
Media Relations Officer
416 482-4444 ext. 8831
ctidey@unicef.ca

Kathleen Powderley
Media Relations Officer
416-803-5597
kpowderley@unicef.ca

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.