© UNICEF/Maxime Le Lijour | A mother sits with her children in an IDP site in Léogâne, on the outskirts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

United Nations, 2 July 2024

Continued violence and instability in Haiti has resulted in the displacement of over 300,000 children, with an estimated one child being displaced every minute since March, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.

Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director, highlighted the horrific impact of violence on children and adolescents.

“The humanitarian catastrophe unfolding before our eyes is taking a devastating toll on children. Displaced children are in desperate need of a safe and protective environment, and increased support and funding from the international community,” she said.

Across the country, an estimated three million children are in need of humanitarian assistance, against a backdrop of years of political turmoil, widespread poverty, rampant disease and multiple disasters.

Displaced children in Haiti face heightened risks of violence, including sexual assault, exploitation, abuse and family separation. Their access to essential services such as safe spaces, healthcare, and clean water and sanitation is severely disrupted.

Poor hygiene conditions in camps and makeshift settlements increase their susceptibility to diseases like cholera, while school closures and economic constraints driven by the violence have forced many children to abandon their education.

Furthermore, with few other means of survival or protection, children are increasingly forced to join armed groups – a clear violation of their rights and a breach of international law, UNICEF stressed.

Compounding these challenges, devastating hazards wreaking havoc across the country.

Haiti’s National Emergency Operations Center has warned of a “hyperactive” cyclone season, further threatening the already vulnerable displaced population. Last month, a tornado in Bassin Bleu, Northwest Department, destroyed the homes of 650 children.

The crippled healthcare system that was barely able to cope with demand before the latest escalation of violence will have to contend with a rainy season that is expected to continue to worsen the situation, threatening to spike water-borne diseases, UNICEF warned.

“The needs in Haiti continue to grow, alongside the dangers for children,” Ms. Russell said, adding that everyone has a role to play to change the trajectory, and ensure that children are protected, have education and can access basic services.

Children should not be paying with their lives and their futures for a crisis created by adults,” she said.

The original article appeared here.

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