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Haiti: UN Urges Aid For Child Hurricane Victims

Haiti: UN Urges Urgent Aid For Hundreds Of Thousands Of Child Hurricane Victims

New York, Sep 23 2008 12:11PM

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is calling for urgent action to bring life-saving help to hundreds of thousands of youngsters in Haiti suffering from four successive hurricanes since August.

“Relief operations are moving towards the post-disaster recovery activities, but pressing humanitarian needs are yet to be met,” UNICEF said in an update on the situation in the impoverished Caribbean country, where an estimated 300,000 children are in need of aid, according to the Government.

“Entire parts of the country remain inaccessible by road due to landslides and collapsed bridges,” it added, noting that the dispatch of humanitarian supplies relies on costly sea and air transportation.

Over 400 schools were damaged and many more are being used as shelter. Children are expected to return to school on 6 October, and UNICEF aid will contribute towards creating favourable conditions for the displaced population to return to their homes and vacate the schools.

“The people here need more food and water,” said UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, actress Mia Farrow, on a recent visit to shelters in the devastated city of Gonaives where she talked with families whose houses and livelihoods were washed away with the rains.

“The children and the families I have spoken with are hungry and thirsty. They need so much more help from the international community and they need it now.”

An inter-agency appeal for $107 million was launched on 10 September, but only a little over 3 per cent has so far been raised. UNICEF has already provided over 120,000 litres of water, water purification tablets, hygiene kits, blankets, therapeutic milk, high energy food supplement, and other relief supplies.

“The devastation in Gonaives reminds me of the (2004 Indian Ocean) tsunami when I was in Aceh (Indonesia), except that this time there is so much mud everywhere that it is hard to see how the people will get rid of it,” said Nigel Fisher, President of UNICEF Canada, accompanying Ms. Farrow in Gonaives.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), which has already supplied enough food for 373,000 people since the relief operation was launched, some 226,000 of them in Gonaives, has now received two chartered helicopters for air transport. They will serve WFP and other humanitarian agencies and the first deployment will likely be to transport a portable hospital and water purification for the Spanish Red Cross.


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