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News note

Floods continue to cause havoc in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE 1 November 2007 – Just as some of the displaced were starting to return to their homes after severe flooding a month ago, Haiti was once again pounded with heavy rain from Tropical Storm Noel. Since late September, heavy rains and flooding have affected most departments. The Standing Secretariat of Risk and Disaster Management maintains that  heavy rains and strong winds may continue, with a serious danger of floods and landslides in at-risk areas.

According to Department of Civil Protection, over 7500 people were displaced and 24 people were killed by floods from Tropical Storm Noel, thus bringing the total number of fatalities from severe rain to 63 in the last month. The Western Department, where the capital Port-au-Prince is located, was heavily impacted with reports of flooded roads and restricted access to affected areas. With the support of MINUSTAH (UN Mission for Stabilization in Haiti), 910 people have been evacuated in several locations of the metropolitan area, and an additional 600 were evacuated in Leogane and Petit Goave. As the rain continues to fall, evacuations are taking place in several departments, however in many flooded areas, evacuations were hindered due to lack of accessibility.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, in fact over 50 per cent of the population lives below the US $1 a day poverty line and 76 per cent below US $2 a day.  Particularly at risk during emergencies are children under 18, who make up an estimated 45 per cent of Haiti’s population. Urgent action is required to address the needs of women and children.

In collaboration with other agencies and partners, UNICEF is monitoring and assessing the overall health and nutrition situation in the flood affected zones, especially the impact of lack of access to safe water. UNICEF is providing flood zones with school supplies and other necessary scholastic materials lost in the disaster. Of  particular concern is the fact that schools are often used as provisional shelter, which disrupts education activities even in non-affected areas. In order to help schools restart their normal schedules, even if they are still sheltering displaced people, UNICEF is providing temporary shelters to be used either as classrooms or to shelter people during the day.

Psycho-social interventions will be carried out in coordination with education activities. Expert team will be deployed to affected areas to help children come to terms with the stress and loss caused by floods and help children recover a sense of normalcy.

UNICEF is also working with UN agencies and partners to conduct ongoing assessments to prepare for a consolidated response to emergency needs for flood affected zones. Currently, we are assessing identified sites for provisional shelters and emphasizing the importance of management and coordination in the flood zones, especially in the area of registration, control of distribution of emergency supplies, and requests for life saving items to ensure that basic needs are met.

Amongst supplies already distributed are, hygiene Kits,cooking sets, blankets, water tanks, containters and purification tablets, tents and tarpaulins.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
Linda Tom, UNICEF Haiti, +509 245-3525 ext 276, ltom@unicef.org
Véronique Taveau, UNICEF Geneva, +41 22 909 5716 vtaveau@unicef.org
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Media New York, 1212 326 7426, pmccormick@unicef.org




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