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UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman visits quake struck Port-au-Prince

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, 4 February 2010 - UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman visited Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince, which was devastated by the January 12 earthquake.

“Haiti, the most impoverished country in the Americas, has suffered a catastrophic tragedy,” said Veneman. “Many lives have been lost and homes, schools, hospitals and businesses were destroyed. But there are signs of hope. Street vendors are selling food and clothing and shops are beginning to open in buildings that were not destroyed. People are literally building their lives back out of the rubble.”

The head of the children’s agency visited a park in downtown Port-au-Prince where residents are living in makeshift shelters. UNICEF and partners are working together delivering food, clean water and basic health services.

“It was really encouraging to see that humanitarian supplies are getting to those who need them the most, especially women and children,” said Veneman. “A massive immunisation campaign is also underway providing life saving vaccines to prevent the spread of disease.”

Veneman also visited a residential childcare centre which was damaged in the quake.

“There were an alarming number of children already without parental care prior to the earthquake,” said Veneman. “Now there are many more separated from their families. This is a children’s emergency.”

UNICEF is supporting safe centres where children can be registered, identified and eventually reunited with their families. These centres are also providing emotional support to these children, many of whom are traumatised by the tragic events.

Only about 50 per cent of Haiti’s children are enrolled in school and around 90 per cent of the schools in and around Port-au-Prince have been damaged or destroyed. Education was among the priority issues that Veneman discussed in her meeting with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.

“Investing in education is an investment in the future of the country,” said Veneman.

..............................................................................................

Haiti Earthquake 2010
On 12 January 2010, a 7.3 earthquake - the most powerful to hit Haiti in a 100 years - struck shortly before 5 p.m. and was centered about (15 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince. The epicenter was in Carrefour and the affected area is the West Province. The quake was quickly followed by several strong aftershocks from 5.9 to 5.0 magnitude. Assessments suggest that some 3 million people -- half of whom are likely children -- are affected by the disaster.

§ Haiti and her people

§ About the earthquake

For more information, please contact:

Kate Donovan
UNICEF Media, New York
Tel + 1 212 326 7452, E-mail: kdonovan@unicef.org

 

 

 

 

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5 February 2010:
Ann M Veneman visits quake-hit Port-au-Prince
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