NEW YORK, USA, 6 January 2011 – One year on, children in Haiti are still reeling from the lingering impact of the 12 January 2010 earthquake, the single largest catastrophe to hit the country in centuries.
|UNICEF correspondent Jane O'Brien 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. Produced by Bob Coen. Watch in RealPlayer|
Uneven access to basic services – combined with the risks posed by disease, exploitation and unsanitary conditions – remain as threats to Haiti’s children and families, according to a new UNICEF report, ‘Children in Haiti: One year after – the long road from relief to recovery.’
The report points out that 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.
|People walk past a collapsed building in downtown Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. Nearly a year after the earthquake, many buildings still lie in ruins.|
Child rights denied
Recurrent crises have hit the population over the past 12 months, with the recent cholera outbreak claiming thousands of lives and slowing the pace of recovery.
“Children, in particular, suffered enormously over the course of the year and continue to suffer,” said UNICEF Representative in Haiti Françoise Gruloos-Ackermans. “They have yet to fully enjoy their right to survival, health, education and protection.”
Still, the UNICEF report takes note of gains that have been made.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, for example, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and other partners conducted emergency campaigns to immunize almost 2 million children against preventable diseases such as measles, diphtheria and polio. And a distribution of 360,000 bed nets reached 163,000 households in the malaria-endemic southern coastal regions.
|Children carry jugs of water at a camp for quake victims in the Delmas district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Nearby, people collect water from a spigot.|
Meanwhile, the establishment of schools by UNICEF and its partners – either temporary tent classrooms or new semi-permanent structures – have allowed lessons to resume for some 720,000 children. About half Haiti’s children still do not attend school, however, and school construction continues to be hampered by rubble clearing and land-tenure issues.
In the wake of the disaster, children who had been separated from their families in the earthquake were registered and reunited with relatives by the inter-agency Child Protection Working Group. 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.
UNICEF and its partners have also provided more than 11,300 latrines and regularly de-sludge 600 latrines to maintain safe sanitation standards, which were in decline in Haiti even before the disaster struck. Investing in long-term sustainable solutions, such as community-led sanitation and water systems, is crucial to overcoming decades of underinvestment.
|In November 2010, men carry emergency medical supplies to a UN helicopter at the airport in the port city of Gonaïves in Haiti's Artibonite Region, as part of a shipment for areas affected by the cholera outbreak.|
While much has 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.
“Since UNICEF will remain a partner in Haiti for the long run, it will be possible to ensure this and to see through the expansion of the protective environment, and the progressive fulfilment of children’s rights. In partnership, with sustained support and a collective vision, we can ensure that children born today not only survive but thrive in a Haiti fit for children."
Earthquake in Haiti