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Urgent assistance needed to help Haitian children affected by the hurricanes, says UNICEF

PORT–AU-PRINCE, 22 September 2008 – Urgent assistance is needed to bring life-saving help to children in Haiti affected by the four successive hurricanes. According to the Government of Haiti, an estimated 300,000 children are in need of aid throughout the country. 

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, actress Mia Farrow, traveled to Haiti to visit the devastated city of Gonaives and to talk to the families whose houses and livelihoods were washed away with the rains. “The people here need more food and water,” said Farrow after visiting three different shelters in the city. “The children and the families I have spoken with are hungry and thirsty,” said Farrow, who also met with families who had taken shelter in the church.  “They need so much more help from the international community and they need it now.”

An inter-agency appeal for $107 million, of which UNICEF is requesting $6 million, was launched on 10th September. To date, just over three per cent of the funds have been raised against the appeal. UNICEF has already provided over 120,000 liters of water, water purification tablets, hygiene kits, blankets, therapeutic milk, high energy food supplement, and other relief supplies.

“The devastation in Gonaives reminds me of the Tsunami when I was in Aceh, except that this time there is so much mud everywhere that it is hard to see how the people will get rid of it,” said Nigel Fisher, President of UNICEF Canada, who was accompanying Farrow in Gonaives.

Relief operations are moving towards the post-disaster recovery activities, but pressing humanitarian needs are yet to be met. Entire parts of the country remain inaccessible by road due to landslides and collapsed bridges. The dispatch of humanitarian supplies relies on costly sea and air transportation.

Over 400 schools were damaged by the natural disaster and many more are being used as shelter. Children are expected to return to school on 6 October, and UNICEF assistance will contribute towards creating favorable conditions for the displaced population to return to their homes and vacate the schools. UNICEF will work in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education to help ensure that children return to school on time.

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 further information, please contact:
Louis-Etienne Vigneault-D, UNICEF Haïti, Mobile: + 509 3463 0056, Email: lvigneault@unicef.org
Miriam Azar, UNICEF New York, Telephone: +1 212 8246949, Mobile: +1 917 4782574, Email: miazar@unicef.org





20 September 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on a visit by Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow and UNICEF Canada President Nigel Fisher to hurricane-stricken Haiti.
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