UNICEF is airlifting 11.5 tons of emergency supplies to Haiti to help victims of hurricanes
PORT-AU-PRINCE, 10 September 2008 – UNICEF is airlifting 11.5 tons of relief supplies to Haiti to help victims made homeless and displaced by the recent hurricanes. The first shipment of 8.5 tons arrived yesterday and three additional tons are expected to arrive in the coming days.
Since 16 August, four successive hurricanes have pounded the country and affected more than 300,000 children, according to figures released by the Government of Haiti. Cities like Gonaïves remain partly flooded and local authorities estimate that 60,000 to 70,000 residents have been forced to relocate to temporary shelters, waiting for the filthy water to recede and to discover what is left of their homes.
“UNICEF’s first line of action is to give potable water and improve sanitation to reduce the risk of diarrhea epidemics,” said Annamaria Laurini, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. “We will also launch a public outreach campaign to call on the population and the authorities to respect children’s rights during this crisis,” she added.
The emergency supplies received include hygiene kits, water purification tablets, oral rehydration salts, blankets, school kits, and additional items to help the victims.
So far, UNICEF has assisted more than 35,000 victims with pre-positioned stocks that are now running empty given the magnitude of the crisis. The airlifted cargo will also allow UNICEF to replenish its stocks to stand ready for the rest of the hurricane season.
Collapsed bridges and landslides on the roads have slowed down the delivery of assistance.
All over the country, schools and churches have been transformed into shelters, each of them housing several hundred families and resembling beehives with children running around and brightly-colored clothes hung out to dry everywhere, contrasting with the muddy water that covered most of the view as far as the eye could see. Unfortunately, it is women and children who are the most vulnerable to diseases when sanitary conditions deteriorate and to violence and looting during distributions.
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4 September 2008: