UNICEF is Supporting Families of Victims of the Collapsed School in Haiti
Port-Au-Prince, 8 November 2008 – While search and rescue operations continue to extricate students and teachers from the rubbles of La Promesse school in Pétion-Ville (Port-au-Prince), UNICEF wants to express sympathies and solidarity with the families of the victims.
In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, UNICEF and its partners have dispatched social workers and psychologists to Eliezer Germain and the General Hospitals, where injured students are transferred, to provide psychosocial support to the shocked children and their families. No final count of the number of victims is yet available but search and rescue teams fear a heavy death toll. An estimated 700 students are registered in the private school for children of lower-income families and a large number of them were in the classrooms when the walls and the roof collapsed.
“UNICEF is with the families in this difficult moment”, said Annamaria Laurini, UNICEF Representative in Haiti, who went on the site a few hours after the event where she met concerned officials. “We will do everything we can to support identification and documentation of injured children in the various hospitals, in order to facilitate information as well as psycho-social support to the families and the children’’ she added.
UNICEF team also went to a few of the hospitals and was able to inform on the phone some parents still unaware of the whereabouts of their children. UNICEF has also ensured that adequate care and additional psychosocial support are provided by partners treating the traumatized and wounded surviving children.
Family members and people passing by rushed to the site to try to save some children from the rubbles, a situation that hampered the already difficult work of rescue teams. Upon request from the MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti), UNICEF has promptly delivered bottled drinking water on the site for the victims and to help the workers in their effort to save trapped victims.
International teams of experts have arrived in Haiti to help in the ongoing search and rescue operations since many children remain trapped under the concrete.
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