Critical supplies for children looted at the armed-group-controlled main port of Port-au-Prince.

The incident further burdens an already collapsing health system in Haiti.

16 March 2024
 Parents take their children to the hospital for consultation.
UNICEF/Joseph
Parents take their children to the hospital for consultation..

PORT-AU-PRINCE, 16th March 2024 – Early this morning, one of UNICEF's 17 containers was looted at Port-au-Prince's main port. The looted container held essential items for maternal, neonatal, and child survival, including resuscitators and related equipment, as well as critical supplies for early childhood development and education, water equipment, and others. 

Armed groups breached the city's main port a week ago, severing one of the capital's last remaining lifelines for food and supplies as the country edges closer to collapse. Currently, over 260 humanitarian-owned containers are controlled by armed groups at the port. 

"Depriving children of vital health supplies amidst a collapsing healthcare system is a violation of their rights. This incident occurs at a critical moment when children need them the most" said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. "Looting of supplies that are essential for life saving support for children must end immediately and humanitarian access must remain safe." 

Since January, the deteriorating security situation in Haiti has continued to worsen the humanitarian crisis, with UNICEF expressing grave concerns over the impact of violence on children’s access to an already crumbling healthcare system that is supported by essential UNICEF supplies. Three out of four women and children do not have access to basic public health and nutrition interventions in the Metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. 

In Port-au-Prince, hospitals have been vandalized and forced to close due to safety concerns. There are only two functional surgical operating facilities available, posing significant challenges for providing surgical care to the population, including those wounded in the crossfire.  

"The closure of health facilities due to security concerns in Haiti represents a dire situation for children where every closed health center means lives at risk and essential medical care denied," said Mr. Maes. "Failure to stop the violence and reopen critical logistics routes will significantly exacerbate the healthcare crisis. We are witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe, and there is little time left to reverse it." 

Across the country, six out of ten hospitals are not functional, facing challenges such as electricity, fuel, and medical supply shortages, which has a severe impact on children who need emergency medical attention, especially in Port-au-Prince. A critical shortage of blood products is hindering surgeries, including those for individuals wounded in the crossfire. 

In 2024, UNICEF's plan for Haiti is to continue scaling up the humanitarian response by increasing access to basic services and helping to keep those services going. UNICEF aims to reach at least 650,000 children and women accessing primary healthcare services. 

"Flexible funding will help us protect more children and communities in need today and go towards building more resilient systems to protect children in the future. We remain committed to delivering aid despite the ever-changing realities on the ground, even in hard-to-reach and the most challenging areas," concluded M. Maes 

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Media contacts

Lalaina F. Andriamasinoro
Chief communication
UNICEF Haiti
Tel: +50937048893
Gessika Thomas
Communication officer
Tel: +50947503125

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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