Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 August 2021:
Early in the morning of 14 August 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, causing hospitals, schools and homes to collapse, leaving communities in crisis. UNICEF estimates that about 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, have been affected by the powerful earthquake. Over 2,000 now confirmed dead.
UNICEF and partners are on the ground providing emergency assistance for children and their families.
Children and their families urgently need health care and clean water. Those who are displaced need shelter. Children who have been separated from their families amidst the chaos need protection. UNICEF staff are on the ground to assess the situation and are working with partners to help keep children and families safe.
What’s happening in Haiti?
As of late on 17 August, at least 1,940 people were reported to have been killed and more than 9,900 injured. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was facing multiple crises, including growing political instability, growing gang-related violence and insecurity, civil unrest, and rising food insecurity and malnutrition.
All of these challenges were further exacerbated by COVID-19. Now, health centres, schools, bridges and other essential facilities and infrastructure on which children and families depend have also been impacted – in some cases, irreparably.
Tropical Depression Grace compounded the situation, with heavy rains further disrupting access to water, shelter, and other basic services.
UNICEF is working with Haitian officials to conduct rapid assessments of needs in schools and to identify schools that have been destroyed or damaged.
Preliminary assessments conducted in one of the three departments hardest hit by the earthquake revealed extensive destruction to schools, just weeks before they are due to re-open.
Getting children back to school will be extremely difficult for parents, teachers and the government. But ensuring children can return safely to school – and to the normalcy and stability of being in a classroom with their friends and teachers – will help them as they recover from the traumatic experiences of the earthquake and recent extreme weather.
How is UNICEF responding to the earthquake?
UNICEF is continuing to prioritize the resumption of essential services – including water and sanitation, health, nutrition and shelter – for the affected population. UNICEF and partners are distributing tarpaulins for emergency shelter, latrines and showers; water reservoirs for safe water distribution; and hygiene kits including water treatment tablets, soap, menstrual hygiene material, and jerrycans.
UNICEF Supply Division is delivering lifesaving supplies including emergency health kits containing medicines and medical equipment, water purification tablets and masks.
Additional supplies, including education and recreational kits will also be rapidly mobilized, and UNICEF is planning community-based engagement activities to prevent family separation and to ensure protection and psychosocial support for children.
UNICEF estimates that it will need US$15 million to respond to the most urgent needs of at least 385,000 people, including 167,000 children under the age of five, for a period of eight weeks.
Haiti Earthquake Emergency
UNICEF’s mandate is part of the larger mission of the United Nations.
UNICEF works in the world’s toughest places to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents – and to protect the rights of every child, everywhere. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we do whatever it takes to help children survive, thrive and fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.
The world’s largest provider of vaccines, we support child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality education and skill building, HIV prevention and treatment for mothers and babies, and the protection of children and adolescents from violence and exploitation.
Before, during and after humanitarian emergencies, UNICEF is on the ground, bringing lifesaving help and hope to children and families. Non-political and impartial, we are never neutral when it comes to defending children’s rights and safeguarding their lives and futures.