Escalating violence threatens thousands of children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Nearly 200,000 people, half of whom are children, are now displaced across the country, with 130,000 in the capital alone.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, 11 September 2023 — A hotspot of armed violence in metropolitan Port-au-Prince in recent weeks has put thousands of families at risk in the neighborhoods of Carrefour-Feuilles and Savanes Pistaches, and displaced over 19,000 people, mostly women and children, to host communities or spontaneous displacement sites.
Nearly 200,000 people, half of whom are children, are now displaced across the country, with 130,000 in the capital alone. The situation remains highly volatile, with constant threats of armed attacks looming over the entire city.
"The violence escalated dramatically in a matter of days. In certain neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, families are contending with armed groups determined to expand their influence, and far too many are being left with no option but to leave their homes to seek refuge from the terrible violence," said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Haiti.
The situation continues to evolve rapidly, with new displacements occurring daily due to new attacks and a continuous insecurity environment. UNICEF and partners are ramping up efforts to address the immediate needs of affected communities, including deploying mobile clinics to address health risks and malnutrition, and with water, hygiene, and sanitation kits and water bladders. A key concern is to ensure displaced children can access schools once the school year begins.
"The situation is remarkably unpredictable. Displacement sites can vanish in an instant amidst the escalating violence. This is why we must always stand ready to swiftly reinstate critical support systems for essential services," explains Maes. "Flexible support from our funding partners is pivotal in allowing us to rapidly adapt our response."
The resurgence of violence in the metropolitan areas of Port-au-Prince compounds an extremely dire situation for children in the country. Nearly 3 million children – the highest number on record – need humanitarian support this year, due to alarming levels of violence and insecurity, unprecedented hunger and malnutrition, and a resurgence of cholera. Already before the ongoing crisis, Haiti was the poorest and least developed country in the Western Hemisphere. The situation is only likely to worsen.
Of the $246 million required to address the humanitarian needs of Haiti's children this year, only 18 percent has been secured. "Together with partners, we are bringing critical support to children. But our operations are running on a near-empty tank. We can and must do more, because children’s lives are at stake. We urgently appeal to governments, donors, and humanitarian partners to stand with Haiti’s children at this time of unprecedented need," said Maes.