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
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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.
Haiti, an Island nation of 11 millon people located in Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea to the east of Cuba, and and Jamaica and South of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Island. And Haiti, also shares the western part of the island with the Dominican republic. Haiti is perhaps one of poorest of the poor countries in the western hemisphere. Haiti a former French colony, and a subject to United States invasion and occupation between 1915 to 1934. And that is all due to political instability, and mismanagement of their economy. Hence Haitians the has always look up to their big brother neighbour “Uncle Sam” as the last best hope to stabilised their country . The ending of rule of François “Papa Doc”and his successor son Jean Claude” Baby Doc” over their strangled hold on Haitian politics between 1956 to 1986 was thanks to uncle Sam. Through out rule, that period was marked by state sanction violence against the opposition, corruption and economic stagnation which reduced Haiti as the poorest Islands nation in the Caribbean .
Today they have one of the highest gang related murders and kidnapping in the Caribbean. In 2010 an earthquake hit. Killing thousands of people. Few weeks ago Jovenel Moise, who was sworn in as president,in 2017 was assassinated by former Colombian soldiers in State House and his wife seriously injured in that attack, while their children are sleeping in their bed rooms . Aided and helped by Haitians living in exile in the United States. Last week whilst the world attention was focused on events in Afghanistan, Haiti was struck by a deadly earthquake of 7.2 magnitude killing more than 2000 people.
Apart from the natural disasters, this French speaking Krio speaking nation have had it share of bad governance, dictatorship, and worst politicians that don’t care about their people.Thanks to the almighty, we don’t suffer from earthquakes, but we have had our political earthquakes by electing an incompetent government, that mirrors the political classes of Haiti. They only care about themselves. LONTA !
Sadly, Haiti’s history, geography and indeed geology have not served that country well. And that is to put it mildly. Haiti came into being in 1804 as an independent black Caribbean nation – the first to achieve that remarkable political feat in the context of European worldwide imperial dominance. It rose out of th ashes of years of a brutal and bloody confrontation between the military might of a revolutionary, Napoleonic France and a fiercely determined, freedom-minded black slave population in what was then a French colony called St Domingue. Yet that initial glorious success and exercise in black political self-assertion and self-determination has over the intervening centuries not resulted in the realisation of the great hopes and dreams that had propelled into action such great black revolutionary figures as Tousssaint Louverture.
Toussaint and others had led and won a revolutionary struggle aimed at restoring their dignity and freedom from centuries of systematic and unrelenting dehumanisation and murderous economic exploitation. However, the new province of black freedom they heroically created remains to this day the poorest nation in the Americas, with a history of a profoundly unstable political entity – a prey to murderous violence inspired by acrimonious and disputatious party politics and to periods of dictatorial and nepotistic rule. This difficult political history was thrown into relief very recently by the brutal assassination of the country’s head of state. Add to this sorry state of affairs its unfavourable geology. Haiti has the great misfortune of being located in a place where tectonic plates collide, thus making it repeatedly vulnerable to earthquakes. In terms of its geography, it is worth noting that the Caribbean finds itself in that part of the Atlantic Ocean subject to yearly occurrences of hurricanes, which often leave in their wake apocalyptic scenes of chaos and destruction.
So in the space of just a couple of weeks we have witnessed all three forces – troubled political history, unforgiving geography and cruel and lethal geology – at work, resulting in political uncertainty and despair, huge loss of lives and limitless material damage. Haiti truly needs help, and in the name of our common and shared humanity, the international community owes it a duty of help and care, and must act expeditiously. Haiti’s tragedy is our collective human tragedy; more importantly, bringing respite and peace to its people is our collective human responsibility.