Over half mln children affected by Haiti earthquake: UNICEF

(Xinhua) 09:05, August 18, 2021

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Tuesday that 540,000 children are estimated to have been affected by the powerful earthquake that hit Haiti on Saturday.

To make things worse, the hardest-hit departments of Haiti are now being drenched by Tropical Depression Grace, which is further disrupting access to water, shelter, and other basic services. Flooding and mudslides are likely to worsen the situation of vulnerable families and further complicate the humanitarian response, said UNICEF in a press release.

Search and rescue efforts are under way, with official reports of over 1,400 deaths and 7,000 injured. More than 84,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed, along with public infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and bridges, said UNICEF.

Criminal violence and insecurity complicate the humanitarian response, and the main road from the capital city of Port-au-Prince to the south of the country is controlled by gangs. Nevertheless, UNICEF was able to reach affected areas with medical supplies within hours of the earthquake, it said.

A UNICEF truck delivered six medical kits to three hospitals in Les Cayes, with enough supplies, including gloves, painkillers, antibiotics and syringes, to treat 30,000 earthquake victims over three months, it said.

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.

Additional supplies, including education and recreational kits will be rapidly mobilized, and UNICEF is planning community-based engagement activities to prevent family separation and to ensure protection and psychosocial support for children, it said.

UNICEF is working closely with the government and partners to carry out rapid assessments of children's needs. UNICEF estimates that it will need 15 million U.S. dollars to respond to the most urgent needs of at least 385,000 people, including 167,000 children under the age of 5, for a period of eight weeks. This initial funding requirement will be reviewed and adjusted in the coming weeks as the impact on children and families becomes clearer, it said. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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