United Nations today reported that there has been healing and progress for Haitian children in the areas of education, health, nutrition and child protection two years after an earthquake hit the country.
UN said Haitian children are slowly experiencing improvements in their living standards despite continuing challenges.
“There is evidence of little victories everywhere, although serious gaps and inadequacies in Haiti’s basic governance structures remain.” – Francoise Gruloss-Ackermans, the representative in Haiti of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
UNICEF has helped more than 750,000 children return to school and some 80,000 of them are now attending classes in the 193 quake-resistant schools constructed by the UN agency. In addition, more than 15,000 malnourished children have received care through therapeutic feeding programmes.
In the area of child protection, the government of Haiti has taken the major step to strengthen its legal framework for institutionalized children. Prior to the earthquake the government did not know how many children were living in institutions–or even where they were. Now, with UNICEF’s support, the first ever Directory of Residential Care Facilities has been launched; so far more than half of the country’s 650 centers have been assessed, and more than 13,400 children–out of an estimated 50,000 living in residential care–have been registered. The government has also signed the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption, which protects the rights of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents by establishing minimum standards for adoptions.
However, the report also warned that with over four million Haitian children under the age of 18, many of them still struggle for survival, development and protection amid glaring institutional weaknesses.
UNICEF has launched a $24 million appeal for immediate humanitarian support to vulnerable children while another $30 million will be needed for longer-term development assistance.
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the small island nation of Haiti on the evening of January 12, the worst earthquake to strike the region in more than 200 years. Thousands died; the quake’s epicenter was located just 10 miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
Throughout the night and into the morning, powerful aftershocks, some as strong as 5.9 magnitude, continued. The initial quake toppled the presidential palace and destroyed the shanty homes where most Haitians live. Their homes destroyed, people are in the streets with nowhere to go.
The greatest damage appears to be concentrated in Port-au-Prince, where critical services, such as electricity, water and phone services, are severely affected. Access to the capital city is limited due to debris and other obstacles on the roads. Reports of injuries and death tolls are still unknown because of communications problems; however, early indications suggest a large number of causalities and extensive damage.
UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood.