For children and families in Haiti, the long road from relief to recovery
UNICEF reports on relief and recovery efforts, and the challenges faced by children and families, in the year since the 12 January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
KUALA LUMPUR/PORT-AU-PRINCE, 12 January 2011 –Haiti’s 4 million children continue to suffer from inequitable access to basic water, sanitation, healthcare, and education services and protection one year after the devastating 12 January earthquake shook their fragile lives.
According to a new UNICEF report 'Children in Haiti: One year after – the long road from relief to recovery,’ more than 1 million people, including approximately 380,000 children, are still living in crowded camps in the earthquake zone. Despite the efforts of the Haitian authorities and the international community, the recovery process is just beginning.
“Children in particular suffered and continue to suffer enormously because of successive emergencies experienced in 2010, and they have yet to fully enjoy their right to survival, health, education, and protection,” said UNICEF Representative to Haiti, Ms. Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans.
Progress despite challenges
Despite recurring challenges, including a recent cholera outbreak which claimed thousands of lives and slowed the pace of recovery, UNICEF and its partners have dedicated themselves to achieve a level of progress for quake survivors.
Some 2 million children have been immunised against preventable diseases such as measles, diphtheria and polio; while a distribution of 360,000 bed nets reached 163,000 households in the malaria-endemic southern coastal regions.
Children who were separated in the wake of the disaster were registered and reunited with their families, and today almost 100,000 children in quake affected areas have access to child-friendly spaces that provide a measure of normalcy in their lives.
Despite rubble clearing and land-tenure issues hampering school construction, some 720,000 children have also resumed classes.
While much has been achieved under difficult conditions, the UNICEF report acknowledges that there is much more to be done to address long-standing inequities that have left many Haitian children impoverished and without access to basic services.
“It is very clear – the year 2010 was probably the worst year in living memory for most Haitian adults – but UNICEF is working hard to make sure that it is hardest year that Haitian children will ever have to bear,” the report states.
"Haiti’s children have a right to grow up with education, nutrition, clean water, and safe sanitation; they have a right to be free from exploitation and disease,” said Ms. Gruloos-Ackermans said. “We believe that with support and commitment, the seeds of recovery and development can be planted and these goals can be achieved.”