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. By mid-September, around 650,000 people, including about 260,000 children, were estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance.
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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*Page last updated 4 October 2021
What’s happening in Haiti?
More than 2,200 people died,12,700 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.
Over a month after the earthquake, about 70 per cent of all schools in the Southwestern part of the country were still either damaged or destroyed. 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 middle of September, at least 500,000 people required support to access water supply services, while more than 26,000 people were located in displacement sites.
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 is working with partners continue to scale up response efforts to get relief assistance to hard-to-reach areas, including supplying safe water, and distributing hygiene, and other emergency supplies.
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.
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.
UNICEF has started the distribution of school materials in areas affected by the earthquake. In total, about 100,000 children will receive their own school kits as they gradually return to the classroom in the coming days and weeks.
By the start of October, the initial phase of the reconstruction work had begun in some schools and was expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, should resources be made available. About 150 new schools will be rebuilt and 900 temporary learning spaces will be set up progressively.
In response to the earthquake, UNICEF is requesting a total of $122.2 million to scale up its emergency interventions in Haiti this year.