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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Haiti violence means nearly 3 mln children need humanitarian support


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United Nations: With staggering levels of violence in Haiti exacerbating hunger and malnutrition, a UN spokesman said on Thursday that almost 3 million children, the highest on record, need humanitarian support.

“Boys and girls in the country face staggering levels of violence that have exacerbated hunger and malnutrition in a country already mired in poverty and a resurgence of cholera,” said Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Dujarric said the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported the number of children suffering from life-threatening malnutrition has shot up by 30 percent since last year, and nearly one in four children across the country suffer from chronic malnutrition.

“Being a child in Haiti today is harsher and more dangerous than it ever has been in living memory,” said UNICEF Haiti representative Bruno Maes. “The threats and hardships children face are simply unimaginable. They desperately need protection and support.”

UNICEF said in a release that children find themselves in the crossfire or directly targeted as armed groups terrorize the population in their fight for territory and control, mainly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and increasingly in the neighboring Artibonite region.

The agency said children are killed or injured on their way to school. Women and girls face extreme sexual violence. Kidnappings for ransom, including of students, teachers, and health workers, have skyrocketed, as have attacks on schools. The violence has displaced tens of thousands.

“Many children and young people in metropolitan Port-au-Prince say they are being forced to join armed groups for protection or because it means food and income for the family,” UNICEF said.

The release said that in addition to the violence, hunger and disease such as cholera, Haiti faces the constant threat of violent storms and earthquakes. Early this month, heavy rains caused destructive and deadly flooding. Days later the deluge was followed by an earthquake centered in Grand Anse, a region still scarred by a 2021 earthquake.

Despite limited funding, the agency said it is scaling up its operations and expanding its presence in the field. However, Haiti’s 246 million U.S. dollar funding requirement is less than 15 percent funded this year

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