1 in 2 children depend on humanitarian aid to survive this year
PORT-AU-PRINCE/PANAMA/NEW YORK, 28 January 2023- Amidst growing armed violence in Haiti, at least 2.6 million children are expected to need immediate lifesaving assistance in 2023, UNICEF warns today as Garry Conille, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, wraps up his first official visit as Regional Director.
In the last two years, the number of Haitian children in need of humanitarian aid has increased by half a million as an upsurge in armed violence, a resurgence of cholera, combined with food insecurity and skyrocketing inflation have restricted access to essential health, nutrition, water and hygiene, and education services for millions of children and their families.
“This is one of the hardest times to be a child in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, and it’s worsening by the day. With limited access to drinking water, affordable food, basic health care and protection, children and their families are reaching breaking point. Without additional urgent support, their humanitarian situation is likely to further deteriorate in the coming months.”
During his four-day field visit this week, Garry Conille joined the distribution of learning materials in a newly rebuilt school that was destroyed by the earthquake in 2021 and interacted with students and teachers. He also met with other humanitarian actors to assess the needs and identify ways to improve the response.
The current crisis in Haiti is affecting children’s right to protection and education. Most schools in Haiti were closed for seven months last year and only started to gradually reopen since October 2022. Violence is also taking a significant toll on the lives of children, especially in Greater Port-au-Prince, where an estimated 1.2 million children are under threat due to violence.
The cholera outbreak is taking a significant and disproportionate toll on children as children under the age of 10 account for one in three confirmed cases. In Cité Soleil, a neighborhood in the capital Port-au-Prince, up to 8,000 children under 5 are at risk of dying from acute malnutrition or cholera unless urgent action is taken to contain these threats. Limited access to drinking water is further exacerbating the cholera outbreak as around six in ten damaged water supplies still need rehabilitation.
Together with partners on the ground and the Government of Haiti, UNICEF has scaled up its humanitarian response despite an extremely insecure and volatile environment. While humanitarian access to children in need remains a challenge, UNICEF teams in the field are effectively managing to enter gang-controlled areas and distribute lifesaving assistance to the most vulnerable families.
Last year, UNICEF supported Haitian authorities in providing basic services for children and their families, including water, sanitation, and hygiene, education, health, nutrition, child protection and social protection services:
- Over 646,000 people accessed enough safe water for drinking and domestic needs.
- Over 323,000 children aged 6 to 59 months were screened for wasting and over 12,600 children with severe acute malnutrition were admitted for treatment.
- Nearly 480,000 children and women received essential healthcare services in UNICEF-supported facilities.
- About 170,000 children under one year old were vaccinated against measles.
- More than 132,000 children received learning materials.
- About 68,000 women, girls and boys accessed gender-based violence risk prevention and response interventions.
- 25 Non-formal Education Centers were supported.
- More than 1,200 vulnerable households with school-aged children received multi-purpose cash transfers.
“Humanitarian assistance to children and their families, one of the few remaining lifelines for children in Haiti, is a “buffer” that prevents the country from spiralling into a cycle of social unrest, insecurity, instability and more poverty. Regardless of what may divide Haitians, the future of our children should unite us all. Businesspeople, civil servants, artists, teachers, nurses and religious leaders can all be part of a positive ripple effect across Haiti by investing in children.”
UNICEF is calling on all segments of Haitian society to rally and recommit to children’s survival, protection, and well-being.
Last year UNICEF’s humanitarian response in Haiti had only received about 40 per cent of the required funding. UNICEF is calling on the international community to urgently increase financial support to the humanitarian response in Haiti, the most underfunded UNICEF emergency operation in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Without timely and flexible international donor support to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis, UNICEF and its partners will not be able to meet the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable children in Haiti.
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.