PORT-AU-PRINCE, 23 March 2004 – A UNICEF convoy will leave Port-au-Prince on Wednesday morning to deliver education and health supplies to schools and health centres in the cities of Saint-Marc and Cap-Haitien in the north of the country.
The school-in-a-box and recreation kits will provide hundreds of children in a dozen schools with basic education supplies and play materials. The schools were identified following a previous assessment mission conducted by UNICEF. The health and obstetric kits will be delivered to the organization Médecins sans Frontières in Cap-Haitien.
Continuing insecurity and crippled infrastructure have made it difficult to reach children in the north of the country following the recent civil unrest that started last December. UNICEF estimates that at least fifty schools throughout Haiti were destroyed during the conflict, and many others are reported to have been looted by armed militias.
“ Every child in Haiti has seen or been subjected to violence,” said Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. “Getting these children back to school will help them regain some sense of normalcy.”
Following a call on Monday by M. Pierre Buteau, Haiti’s Minister of Education, sports and citizenship asking parents to send their children back to school, UNICEF estimates that 90 per cent of schools are now open throughout the country. In many regions, however, attendance is still as low as 50 %.
“At the moment we are providing an emergency response to children who were most affected by the conflict. But we also need to think about the 40% of Haitian children who do not have access to education because they cannot afford school fees, or even the cost of a uniform,” said Gruloos-Ackermans.
For more information, please contact:
Elisabeth Augustin, Communication Officer, UNICEF Haiti
Thierry Delvigne-Jean, Communication Officer, UNICEF Haiti