Massive earthquake leaves devastation in Haiti
UNICEF and partners are on the ground providing emergency assistance for children and their families.
Early in the morning of 14 August 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, causing hospitals, schools and homes to collapse, claiming hundreds of lives, and leaving communities in crisis. UNICEF estimates that about 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, have been affected by the powerful earthquake.
Children and their families urgently need health care and clean water. Those who are displaced need shelter. Children who have been separated from their families amidst the chaos need protection. UNICEF is working with partners to help keep children and families safe.
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What’s happening in Haiti?
More than 2,200 people died,12,200 people were injured, and 130,000 homes were destroyed by the earthquake, leaving thousands of people in urgent need of assistance.
Even before the earthquake, Haiti was facing multiple crises, including growing political instability, growing gang-related violence and insecurity, civil unrest, and rising food insecurity and malnutrition. All of these challenges were further exacerbated by COVID-19. Now, health centres, schools, bridges and other essential facilities and infrastructure on which children and families depend have also been impacted – in some cases, irreparably.
Haiti’s children and families in shock
Essential facilities that children and their families depended on have disappeared. Some have lost family members, while others were separated from loved ones amidst the chaos of the earthquake. In the streets, people carry baskets as they rummage through what remains of their destroyed homes in search of clothing and food.
Preliminary assessments revealed extensive destruction to schools, just weeks before they were due to re-open. Getting children back to school will be extremely difficult for parents, teachers and the government. But ensuring children can return safely to school – and to the normalcy and stability of being in a classroom with their friends and teachers – will help them as they recover from the traumatic experiences of the earthquake and recent extreme weather.
By the first week of September 2021, severe conditions in southwestern Haiti – where more than half a million children lacked access to shelter, drinking water and hygiene facilities – were rapidly increasing the threat of acute respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases, cholera and malaria.
How is UNICEF responding to the earthquake?
UNICEF is continuing to prioritize the resumption of essential services – including water and sanitation, health, nutrition and shelter – for the affected population. UNICEF and partners are distributing tarpaulins for emergency shelter, latrines and showers; water reservoirs for safe water distribution; and hygiene kits including water treatment tablets, soap, menstrual hygiene material, and jerrycans.
At the onset of the earthquake, UNICEF delivered essential medical supplies to the main hospitals in the south to reach 30,000 people over two months. UNICEF has also already provided clean water and hygiene and sanitation items to more than 108,000 affected women and children.
In order to adequately protect children affected by the earthquake, urgent needs include the provision of psychosocial support for children affected by the earthquake, assessments of children’s protection needs, and identification of the most vulnerable young people.
In response to the earthquake, UNICEF is requesting a total of $122.2 million to scale up its emergency interventions in Haiti this year.