|© UNICEF Haiti/2004|
GONAIVES, Haiti, 29 September 2004 – UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy walked through the ravaged streets of this northern city today to see how Haiti is struggling to recover from its third major disaster in five months.
Water and mud have devastated Gonaives, killing almost a thousand children, and leaving many more missing or homeless. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere; it will take years for the country to recover from the devastation left by Tropical Storm Jeanne.
After seeing the scale and impact of the crisis first hand, Bellamy said: “These people need help. I am returning to New York to advocate for more funding – not just for UNICEF’s work but for the entire UN response. Haiti’s child survival indicators were terrible before Jeanne, but the world doesn’t stop in a humanitarian emergency. We have to move fast to save lives.”
• Total population (2002): 8,218,000
• Life expectancy: 49 years
• Net primary school enrolment / attendance (1996-2002): 54%
• Estimated number of children with HIV/AIDS: 19000
• Total number of orphans 610,000
UNICEF has helped set up 20 centres in Gonaives to care for people made homeless by the floods. But many public buildings are being used by families as collective shelters, without any organization or security. UNICEF is concerned about the safety of children left unprotected and exposed to violence and abuse in the volatile atmosphere.
Fighting has broken out at aid distribution points and UN peacekeepers have been trying to maintain security. The city is also without electricity or clean water.
Many children are suffering from diarrhoea, which can kill if left untreated. UNICEF has sent protein biscuits and 400,000 sachets of water purification powder to the worst-affected areas.
This has been one of the most difficult year’s in Haiti’s turbulent history. The rebellion in March caused conflict throughout the country and floods earlier this year killed thousands of people.
Carol Bellamy on ABC News
Bellamy Haiti visit supports children of Gonaives
Disease and violence threaten Haiti’s flood-stricken children
Rush to aid children in shelters