The people of Haiti need us
Skrevet man, 10/17/2016 - 14:29 av Cornelia Walther
Port-au-Prince, Haiti: It now feels strange to wake up in my apartment, surrounded by solid walls, running water and electricity; Passing untouched houses and crowds of cars on my way to work. Nothing has changed, and yet everything has changed. We can’t make unseen what our eyes have once taken in, and that is a good thing.
The experience of the past week is like a propeller to move fast and efficiently to help those who can’t at present help themselves. Every hour, every day is precious. A plan for staff rotation has been set-up to ensure that colleagues who had been deployed from the onset in areas affected by Matthew get a chance to rest and recover, while our operations continue on the ground. Every colleague who returns is touched, shaken, and even further committed to give their maximum. As I write these lines UNICEF experts for Emergency, Health, Nutrition, Education, Water & Sanitation and Child protection are present in the three worst hit areas – Grand Anse (the far West), South, and Nippes.
Yesterday the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Haiti – four hours on Haitian soil, including in Les Cayes. His objective was to witness the situation and talk to people, including in one of the emergency shelters where UNICEF has been delivering safe water from day 1. Furthermore, his visit coincided with the launch of the new Medium Term Plan to eliminate cholera from Haiti. It is the second phase of the 10 year plan that was launched in July 2014. It covers two years and seeks to boost ongoing efforts. (Looking back, the 2014 launch was the occasion that initially brought me to Haiti, and I still remember getting out of the plane, feeling the magic of the country take me in. It sounds weird and yet the gratefulness for living in this special place has not left me since).
The new plan has two pillars. The first seeks to intensify the drive to eliminate cholera with rapid responses to every alert, vaccinations and improving long-term access to clean water and sanitation in Haiti. (UNICEF is a key player in regards to rapid response and water & sanitation). The second pillar will be an assistance package for those most affected by the disease, which has sickened more than 700,000 since 2010. The UN Secretary General plans to present the details of the proposal to the UN General Assembly before he leaves office in the next few months.
Since the beginning of the cholera outbreak in 2010 almost 10,000 people have died from the disease and more than 27,000 suspected cases had been reported from January 2017 until Matthew hit - an estimated one in three was a child. UNICEF has been working with the Government and various partners from the beginning to counter the threat of the epidemic, and to establish the requirements to rid the country of cholera – which means notably access to adequate sanitation and clean water. Even before the hurricane, only one in three people in Haiti had access to proper latrines and less than three in five had access to safe water. In rural areas, these rates go down to one in four for sanitation and one in two for water. But even leaving aside cholera, diarrhea is the fourth largest killer of children under-five Haiti, accounting for 12 per cent of under-five deaths every year.
The areas hit by Matthew had so far not been largely affected by cholera, but now there is an increase in acute diarrhea and cholera, in addition to the destruction left behind by the storm itself. Focusing on clean water has never been more crucial.
Figures released by OCHA (the Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) on 5th October paint an ever darker picture of Matthew’s impact: 546 people died, 438 are injured, and 128 are missing. Over 2 million people throughout the country have been affected by the storm. At least 750,000 people, including 315,000 children, need urgent humanitarian aid for the next three months. 112,500 children under age five are at risk of acute malnutrition. Education is disrupted for 106,250 children. And these figures are still evolving…
Thank You for keeping children in Haiti in your mind.
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Vil du lese flere av Cornelia Walthers blogginnlegg fra Haiti? De finner du her på www.unicef.org