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On eve of quake’s anniversary, Haitian children see some progress – UNICEF

Article / Review by on January 9, 2012 – 8:54 pmNo Comments

On eve of quake’s anniversary, Haitian children see some progress – UNICEF

Two years after the devastating earthquake, Haiti’s children remain the most vulnerableTwo years after the devastating earthquake, Haiti’s children remain the most vulnerable

Two years after an earthquake flattened Haiti, the country’s children are slowly experiencing improvements in their living standards despite continuing challenges, a United Nations report announced today.

“There is evidence of little victories everywhere, although serious gaps and inadequacies in Haiti’s basic governance structures remain,” said Françoise Gruloss-Ackermans, the representative in Haiti of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), of her agency’s report.

According to the study, there has been healing and progress for children in the areas of education, health, nutrition and child protection.

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.The report also warned that continuing gaps in the funding for recovery programmes will affect overall progress on child rights in 2012.

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.

“Make no mistake: the country remains a fragile State, beset by chronic poverty and under-development. Its weak institutions leave children vulnerable to shocks and the impact of disaster,” she warned, noting that the vast numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) continue to place an inordinate amount of pressure on the Haitian Government and its international partners.

More than 500,000 Haitians remain displaced in over 800 different IDP camps across the quake-affected areas and, as the overwhelming majority of them were renters prior to the quake, many of them have no homes in which to return.

The report also warned that continuing gaps in the funding for recovery programmes will affect overall progress on child rights in 2012. As a result, 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.

“The country will need strong and steadfast support to overcome the challenges it still faces,” continued Ms. Gruloss-Ackermans. “While the death toll and destruction from the earthquake were unmatched in modern times, the resources mobilized in the wake of disaster were also exceptional,” she stated, emphasizing Haiti now had a “once and a lifetime opportunity” to stop and reverse decades of degradation and mismanagement.

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Two years after earthquake, little victories for children in Haiti recovery — UNICEF

PORT-AU-PRINCE, 9 January 2012 – UNICEF today released a report showing that two years after the earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti, the situation for children in the country is slowly improving, though critical challenges remain.

According to the report, there is clear evidence of healing and progress for children, particularly in the areas of education, health, nutrition and child protection.

UNICEF has helped more than 750,000 children to return to school and some 80,000 of them are now attending classes in 193 safe, earthquake-resistant schools constructed by the organization. Over 120,000 children enjoy structured play in one of the 520 child friendly spaces. More than 15,000 malnourished children have received life-saving care in 314 therapeutic feeding programmes supported by UNICEF. And 95 rural communities have launched new programmes to improve sanitation.

In the area of child protection, a major step has been that the government of Haiti has strengthened 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 centres have been assessed; and over 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.

“There is evidence of little victories everywhere, although serious gaps and inadequacies in Haiti’s basic governance structures remain,” said Françoise Gruloos-Ackermans, UNICEF’s representative in Haiti. “Make no mistake: the country remains a fragile state, beset by chronic poverty and under-development. Its weak institutions leave children vulnerable to shocks and the impact of disaster”

The report notes that with 4,316,000 children under 18, most of them still only have limited opportunities for survival, development and protection. Although they begin 2012 with a long-awaited new government and national budget, children are affected by the various challenges which remain for a country where the scars of disaster are still visible on the infrastructure, institutions and social systems. More than 500,000 individuals still shelter in over 800 different displacement sites across the earthquake-affected area. Some 77 per cent were renters before the earthquake, meaning most have no homes to return to. An outbreak of cholera in the earthquake’s wake continues to place an additional burden on already severely limited infrastructure and services.

“The country will need strong and steadfast support to overcome the challenges it still faces,” said Gruloos-Ackermans. “While the death toll and destruction from the earthquake were unmatched in modern times, the resources mobilised in the wake of disaster were also exceptional,” she added. “Together they present a ‘once a lifetime’ opportunity to set Haiti on a course that arrests and reverses decades of degradation and mismanagement.”

UNICEF, in the last year of its “transitional programme” for earthquake recovery, continues to implement a mix of humanitarian relief, capacity development for institutional re-building and advocacy simultaneously, in order to address both acute and chronic challenges that prevent the realisation of child rights. However, funding gaps still remain. UNICEF is appealing for US $24 million for immediate humanitarian needs in 2012 to support vulnerable children through five key projects in health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education, and child protection. Another US $30 million is needed for longer term development assistance.

UNICEF says keeping children safe, healthy and learning is a mutual goal – one shared by parents, teachers, both public and private sector entities, religious organisations, the new government and others across the nation. A wide range of partners are working together to innovate, problem-solve and generate momentum to lead to a sustainable future for the children of Haiti.

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About United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) logo

UNICEF works in 190 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 about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

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* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

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