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UNICEF is providing initial assistance to 15,000 persons affected by the cumulative rains in Haiti

© UNICEF Haiti/HAI08-99912/Vigneault
Around 100 families were forced to temporarily relocate in schools, churches or tents in Jacmel where they live in dire conditions. Heavy rain and strong wind destroyed more than 800 houses in the South-East Department alone.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, 03 September 2008 – The United Nations Children’s Fund is stepping up its assistance to an initial 15,000 Haitians affected by heavy rains in the aftermath of successive storms which hit the country and caused significant damage in all departments, but this assistance is likely to increase in the coming days as emergency teams will reach inaccessible areas.

Preliminary information gathered already show that the extent of the damage caused by the rains over past days is more important than Hurricane Jeanne that devastated the city of Gonaives in 2004. The United Nations Country Team will launch a Flash Appeal in the coming days to respond to the cumulative effect of rains in Haiti.

Emergency supplies including 15,000 blankets, 12 water tanks, 5,000 hygiene kits, 20,000 water purification tablets and oral rehydration salts are being airlifted to the country. In addition, the World Food Programme and UNICEF have mobilized 7.5 metric tons of food and 60,000 liters of potable water ready to be transported by sea to the affected population in Gonaives. The people of this city have climbed on their roof tops to escape the flooding on the night of 1-2 September and have waited hours for rescues without food or water, lashed by rain. The water is expected to become stagnant which will lengthen the situation of emergency and increase the risk of waterborne diseases.

© MINUSTAH/Mouillefarine
Southern access to Gonaives remains flooded more than 24 hours after Tropical Storm Hanna caused flash flooding on the night of 1-2 September. The magnitude of the damage caused by the successive rains is more important than Hurricane Jeanne in 2004.

“This year’s hurricane season hits Haiti very hard,” said Annamaria Laurini, UNICEF Representative in Haiti.  “Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is extremely vulnerable to disastrous flash floods because most of its hillsides have been stripped of trees by people desperate for charcoal to use as cooking fuel. And the hurricane season is far from over, several storms have already hit the country, each of them aggravating the damage left by the previous one,” she added.
An inter agency mission will fly to Gonaives as soon as weather conditions will allow, to assess the damage caused by the recent floods.

For further information
Annamaria Laurini, Representative, UNICEF Haiti
Telephone: +509 2245-3525, Email: alaurini@unicef.org

Louis-Etienne Vigneault-D., Communication Officer, UNICEF Haiti
Mobile: +509 3463 0056, Email: lvigneault@unicef.org


Acerca de UNICEF
UNICEF trabaja sobre el terreno en más de 150 países y territorios para ayudar a garantizar a los niños y las niñas  el derecho a sobrevivir y a desarrollarse desde la primera infancia hasta la adolescencia. UNICEF es el mayor proveedor de vacunas para los países en desarrollo, trabaja para mejorar la salud y la nutrición de la infancia; el abastecimiento de agua y saneamiento de calidad; la educación básica de calidad para todos los niños y niñas y la protección de los niños y las niñas contra la violencia, la explotación y el VIH/SIDA. UNICEF está financiado en su totalidad por las contribuciones voluntarias de individuos, empresas, fundaciones y gobiernos.
Most families who lost their homes are taking shelter in schools, which endangers children’s return to the classrooms scheduled for next week. For a country like Haiti, where only 51% of girls and 48% of boys of primary school age attend school, the consequences of a delay in the resumption of classes, coupled with soaring food prices, an ongoing political crisis and the devastation of hurricanes could be dramatic.


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