US$ 30 million is needed to respond to the urgent nees of the children in Gonaives
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, 30 September 2004 - UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy visited Haiti from 29 to 30 September to assess progress in responding to the humanitarian emergency following the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Jeanne.
In Haiti, Bellamy traveled to the city of Gonaives, which received the brunt of Jeanne’s wrath when the storm lashed northwestern Haiti on 18 September. The death toll from the floods is more than 1,500 with an estimated 900 still missing. Nearly 300,000 people have been affected, including at least 150,000 children. A minimum of 200,000 people are exposed to critical health risks. Tens of thousands are homeless and have lost all of their personal possessions.
“There are at least 8,000 people living in temporary shelters in Gonaives. They have nothing. They lost everything in the floods,” said Bellamy, who also held meetings with senior officials from the Government of Haiti and the United Nations. The at-risk population in Gonaives includes 30,000 children under the age of five and 8,000 women who are pregnant or lactating.
UNICEF’s Haiti emergency program directly addresses the most critical needs of women and children. It includes the delivery of medical equipment and supplies, which is helping reduce the rates of child illness and maternal mortality.
“Even before the current crisis, Haiti’s children were among the most vulnerable in the world,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Haiti, Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans. As terrible as current events are, though, they do present all of us with an opportunity to focus world attention on the state of Haiti’s children. This is Haiti’s third humanitarian emergency this year, but regardless of the challenging condition our goal number one is to save children’s lives.”
UNICEF has so far distributed obstetrical equipment, disinfectant, and cold chain equipment to at least four emergency health centers that are currently operational in Gonaives. UNICEF refrigerators have been provided and installed at the CARE warehouse in Gonaives to temporarily replace cold chain equipment needed for immunization which was damaged in the floods. 20,000 doses of anti-tetanus vaccines have been provided by UNICEF and are already being administered in Gonaives. Vaccines for routine immunization and syringes have also been shipped to Gonaives. Water for 10,000 people, water purifier tablets as well as hygienic kits for 1,600 families are being distributed.
UNICEF cooking supplies for 3,000 – including pots and utensils – have been dispatched to Gonaives and are being distributed to affected families in shelters. In partnership with CARITAS, shelters for homeless families are being organized. A team of 30 students who are already trained in post-trauma support and a psychologist have been deployed to Gonaives and are providing psycho-social support to children – and their families – in shelters
UNICEF is launching an ambitious “Back to School” campaign. Temporary schoolrooms will be set up and equipped; damaged schoolhouses will be repaired. UNICEF has made a commitment to rehabilitate 50 schools in Gonaives. A hundred and fifty Schools-in-a-Box, enough educational materials for nearly 12,000 students and hundreds of teachers, will be supplied to Gonaives.
UNICEF Haiti is seeking USD$8.2 million in emergency funding. With this additional support, UNICEF will help strengthen routine immunization services and provide oral rehydration salts, water and sanitation services, psycho-social support, and obstetrical equipment.
Founded in 1946, UNICEF helps save, protect and improve the lives of children around the world through fight for rights of children, education, health care, nutrition, clean water, and sanitation. UNICEF is non-partisan and its cooperation is free of discrimination. In everything it does, the most disadvantaged children and the countries in greatest need have priority. UNICEF has been in Haiti since 1949 and has established a basic agreement in 1983.
For more information, please contact:
Sylvana Nzirorera, Communication Officer, UNICEF Haiti. (509) 245 3525, ext 276/ or 509 402 2674, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gordon Weiss, UNICEF Media, New York: (+1-212) 326-7426, email@example.com
Robert Cohen, UNICEF Media, Panama: (+507) 676-3216. firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, New York: (+1-212) 326-7452, email@example.com
Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Media, Geneva: (4122) 909-5716, firstname.lastname@example.org