Haiti: One in three schools is targeted by violence in Port-au-Prince

55,000 children have not returned to school after the April security crisis

24 June 2022
A schoolgirl stands in a classroom.
UNICEF/Joseph
A young schoolgirl doing math exercises in her class.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, 23 June 2022- In the Metropolitan Area of ​​the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, one in three schools is the target of violence, and one in four schools is dysfunctional, revealed an assessment carried out by the Ministry of Education and UNICEF between April and May in underprivileged and hard-to-reach neighbourhoods of Cité Soleil, Croix-des-Bouquets, Delmas, Ganthier, Port-au-Prince North and South, Pétion-Ville et Tabarre.

“Schools are temples of knowledge where thousands of children come to learn, play with friends and build their future and that of the nation. Under no circumstances should schools be targets of violence or serve as bases for armed groups,” said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Haiti.

In violent clashes between rival armed groups since 24 April, at least 92 civilians have been killed and 113 others injured. Nearly 17,000 people have been displaced by the violence, estimated the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Half a million children have been deprived of education, according to the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training (MENFP).

More than 500 out of 976 schools assessed are dysfunctional or inaccessible while 54 of them have been completely closed for several months, mainly due to rivalries between armed groups, clashes between gangs and the police, or teachers’ difficulties to access these areas.

Nearly 8 per cent of the schools assessed are still occupied mainly by armed gangs, and by displaced families. Due to insecurity, the number of students in classrooms fell from 270,000 before the security crisis in April to 218,000 in May. About 55,000 children have not returned to school.

One in five school directors surveyed say the roads leading to their schools are blocked, the vast majority by armed groups ransoming people for access. In addition, two out of three schools of 290 schools assessed were vandalized, and lost teaching materials, archives, furniture, and management equipment.

“The closure of schools makes children more vulnerable and more exposed to abuse, exploitation and recruitment by armed groups. It is the vicious circle of violence that leads to school closures, which leads children to the streets where they are easily recruited, which later fuels further violence,” Maes underscored.

UNICEF supported the Ministry of Education in the reopening of schools in vulnerable areas such as Martissant, La Saline, Cité Soleil, Bas-Delmas, Bel and Tabarre by distributing thousands of school kits and materials to students, and by facilitating catch-up courses for high school students in sensitive areas to compensate the loss of many months of lessons. 2,100 vulnerable families received financial assistance of 30,000 GHT each (about US$300) during the current school year to help them meet urgent needs and prevent mass dropouts.

As of 20 June, more than 200,000 students over 52 per cent of whom are girls, have passed their state examination for the 9th fundamental year in Haiti. To facilitate the examination in vulnerable areas of the capital, UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP) supported the Ministry of Education distribute hot meals to 10,000 candidate children.

UNICEF continues to respond to the growing needs of children in Port-au-Prince and urges all relevant actors to refrain from the use of violence and take strong measures to restore a peaceful and safe learning environment for all children to start and finish their school cycle.

Media contacts

Ndiaga Seck
Chef de la Communication
UNICEF
Tel: +50937446199
Tel: +50928123076

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/haiti/

For more information, please contact:
Ndiaga Seck, UNICEF Haiti, +509 37 44 61 99, nseck@unicef.org
Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean,       + 507 6169 9886, lduvillier@unicef.org