|© UNICEF Haiti/Daniel More/2004|
|Children and women fleeing fighting areas in Gonaives.|
Port-au-Prince/Panama/Geneva, 12 February 2004 -- “The intensification of the political crisis in Haiti is taking a heavy toll on families and communities; children are increasingly affected by the violence and must be protected,” said Françoise Gruloos-Ackermans, UNICEF Representative in Haiti.
UNICEF appeals to all parties to protect and respect the lives, rights and well-being of children, in particular in areas where civil unrest and violent clashes are taking place. UNICEF also calls upon all parties in the conflict to take appropriate measures to protect children and young people from being armed, trained or involved in the conflict, in conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Haiti in 1994.
The UN inter-agency emergency mission that traveled to Haiti this week to assess the looming humanitarian crisis reported that children are facing serious risks to their health, physical well-being and psychosocial welfare. The UNICEF component of the mission led by regional experts assessed the effect of the crisis on children and women and the organization is gearing up for a full-fledged emergency response.
In addition to its ongoing program of support, UNICEF will provide emergency relief assistance for children in affected areas, including basic health and education kits. UNICEF is working with humanitarian partners and non-governmental organizations to intensify information and advocacy for child rights to ensure observance of international humanitarian law provisions on the rights of civilian populations in conflict.
UNICEF is particularly alarmed about the fate of some 1.2 million children already identified as being especially vulnerable. As the violence in Haiti increases, it is becoming more difficult for children to attend school, receive medical attention, find food and shelter. Children, especially girls, living or working in the streets of urban centers are especially at risk. School attendance has dropped dramatically in most areas due to unsafe roads, lack of security in schools and disruption of public transportation.
For more information, contact:
tlf. (509) 245 35 25
4122 909 5716
UNICEF Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office
tlf. (507) 315 74 85
UNICEF New York Headquarters
tlf. (212) 326 72 61