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Hurricane Matthew one month on: More than 600,000 children in Haiti still in need of aid

Hurricane Matthew one month on: More than 600,000 children in Haiti still in need of aid

UNICEF ramps up water, sanitation, health, education and protection services

PORT-AU-PRINCE, (Haiti) – One month after Hurricane Matthew pummeled Haiti, nearly 600,000 children remain in need of humanitarian assistance, stalked by disease, hunger, and malnutrition, UNICEF said.

“One month after the hurricane, life for more than half a million children in Haiti is still far from back to normal,” said Marc Vincent, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. “Too many children are still homeless, hungry, out of school and in danger. We are scaling up our response and are determined to help as many of them as possible as fast as we can.”

Taking stock of the situation of children since the Category 4 storm flattened buildings and destroyed livelihoods, UNICEF said there have been at least 1,000 suspected cholera cases among children in the past month. Out of 219 cholera treatment centers in the country, 18 have been damaged in the worst-hit departments of Grand’Anse and South, further complicating efforts to contain the disease.

Total destruction of crops and loss of food stocks and livestock in some of the worst affected areas have left over 800,000 people in need of immediate food assistance and more than 112,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition.

An estimated 50,000 children have been left homeless and are staying in temporary shelters. Another 3,500 children living in institutions need help accessing nutrition, water, and sanitation services.

Up to 80 percent of hospitals and health centers in Grand’Anse have lost their roofs. An additional seven health centers in Grand’Anse, four in South and three in Nippes are no longer operational.

More than 700 schools have been affected and about 86 schools have been used as temporary shelters, causing school disruption for at least 150,000 children.

UNICEF is working with national and other partners to provide basic assistance to the most vulnerable children. Joint actions so far include:

  • Providing 100,000people a day with safe water;
  • Organizing a cholera vaccination campaign that will be launched next week to immunize up to 900,000 people;
  • Providing cholera prevention kits that contain water purification tablets, soap, and oral rehydration salts. Between 100 and 200 kits are distributed every day;
  • Delivering an integrated package of services to prevent and treat malnutrition among children under five as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers living in the hurricane-affected areas;
  • Replenishing vaccines and restoring the cold chain so that routine immunization can resume in the health centers that are still operational and in mobile clinics;
  • Distributing emergency medical supplies to 18 health centers;
  • Setting up mobile child-friendly spaces where vulnerable children and families can receive psychosocial support, and training 60 volunteers to staff them;
  • Repairing 22 schools and distributing school-in-a-box and early childhood development kits so that children can resume their learning as soon as possible.

UNICEF requires over $23 million through the end of the year to meet children’s humanitarian needs following the hurricane, including for the cholera response. So far, it has received a mere US$6 million.

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