Children Exceptionally Vulnerable in the Wake of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti
Concerns over basic needs, cholera, gender-based violence, education
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (October 9, 2016) — As the full extent of the devastation in Haiti becomes known, children are not only unable to access basic necessities and medical care but are also facing a unique set of risks that make them particularly vulnerable, Save the Children is warning.
Save the Children's emergency response team was in the hard hit areas of Sud and Grand' Anse on Saturday and reported seeing numerous children lacking basic necessities and without adult supervision. Reports also indicate at least 2,000 children who have been separated from their parents or were living in orphanages have been evacuated.
"It is critical that we support families during this time," Kevin Novotny, Save the Children's Country Director in Haiti said. "Children are at risk of gender based violence and placement into orphanages or long term domestic servitude if their parents are unable to provide them with food and meet other basic needs. We cannot allow this to happen."
Save the Children's emergency response team is working with staff and partners to assess damage done to schools we support as well as provide food to some shelters and identify needs for non-food items. We have also deployed our emergency health unit, which will help with cholera prevention and basic health services.
"We are in a race against time to avert a mass cholera outbreak," Dr. Unni Krishnan, Director of the Emergency Health Unit said. "Recent emergencies such as Ebola and the cholera outbreak in Haiti in 2010 have highlighted the urgent need for clearer, more streamlined health responses. Our emergency health unit meets that need. It responded to yellow fever in DRC and will make an important contribution in Haiti."
Additionally, up to 130,000 vulnerable children nationwide are estimated to be out of school. Early estimates are that 50 percent of the 131 schools we support in Sud, Grand' Anse and Port au Prince has been damaged.
"It is imperative that children return to school as soon as possible," Novotny added. "Being in school gives children a sense of normalcy and a feeling of security that is missing during disasters. Where children cannot immediately return to school, we will be setting up child-friendly spaces, so children have a place to be safe and engage in educational play while their parents start the recovery process."
Save the Children has worked in Haiti since 1978. To support our work in response to Hurricane Matthew, please visit: savethechildren.org/Matthew
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