|Sister Marleine Joseph (left) helps distribute the contents of newly arrived supply packages for orphaned and unaccompanied children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.|
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 9 February 2010 – Four weeks after the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince and other parts of Haiti, the capital’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport never sleeps. Supply flights arrive 24 hours a day with essential aid for those left homeless by the quake, including the most vulnerable survivors: orphaned and separated children.
Among the thousands of buildings levelled in the 12 January disaster – which decimated the country's already fragile infrastructure – was the UNICEF-assisted Foye Zanmi Jezi interim care centre in the Lilavois neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince. The 90 children who lived there now cram into three tents set up on the grounds of their school, which was also destroyed.
The children were playing outside at the time of the earthquake, and all of them survived. But recovery will take time.
Sister Marleine Joseph, the centre’s director, worried about what would happen to her young charges. “They did not have much, but whatever little they had is all gone,” she said. “They are so traumatized.”
|Sisters from the Foye Zanmi Jezi orphanage unpack a box of newly arrived packages for children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.|
UNICEF supplies arrive
Although she appeared distraught, Sister Marleine had some cause for hope. Last week, a truckload of desperately needed UNICEF supplies arrived at Foye Zanmi Jezi. The truck delivered kits containing sandals, clothing, blankets, mattresses, toothbrushes and other basic items.
The kits were part of a shipment, sent to Haiti by UNICEF and its partners, for distribution to a total 50,000 quake-affected children in residential care centres; about 6,000 have received the kits to date.
“Everything is gone,” said one of the girls under Sister Marleine’s care, St.-Anne Roger, 16. “I was supposed to write exams this year and all my papers are gone. My school is destroyed. My dormitory is destroyed. So I’m happy to receive everything I’ve been given.”
|At the airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, UNICEF and US Army staff members review lists of newly arrived supply packages along with Sister Marleine Joseph (centre), director of the Foye Zanmi Jezi orphanage.|
The children of Foye Zanmi Jezi are among thousands of young earthquake survivors who must be found, fed and kept healthy and safe in affected areas of Haiti – where almost 40 per cent of the population is under the age of 14. In response to this children’s emergency, UNICEF, the government and other humanitarian agencies have mobilized on many fronts. For example:
|As Sister Marleine Joseph (left) and another nun look on, a disabled boy and his friend try on plastic sandals received during a distribution of supply kits for children at the UNICEF-assisted Foye Zanmi Jezi orphanage in the Lilavois neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.|
Interventions in the critical areas of nutrition, safe water and sanitation are also being brought to scale, to prevent malnutrition and disease outbreaks in camps for the displaced. Meanwhile, a major immunization campaign for more than 500,000 children under seven is ongoing.
The needs in the earthquake zone are overwhelming, but so is the support that the international community has shown. As aid shipments continue to arrive in Haiti, UNICEF and its partners will continue working to ensure that emergency supplies reach those most in need.
Earthquake in Haiti