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More than four million children at risk as Hurricane Matthew pummels Haiti
Published on October 5, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

NEW YORK, USA -- More than four million children may be exposed to the damage of Hurricane Matthew, UNICEF said on Tuesday as the Category 4 storm made landfall on the impoverished Caribbean island.

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“This is the worst storm Haiti has seen in decades and the damage will no doubt be significant,” said Marc Vincent, UNICEF representative in Haiti. “Waterborne diseases are the first threat to children in similar situations – our first priority is to make sure children have enough safe water.”

Strong winds and torrential rains battered the island, creating floods and landslides. The airports remain closed and children were told to stay home from school – particularly as many schools were used to shelter evacuees.

Haiti is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake, with 55,000 people still living in shelters. The southern coast, where the storm hit the hardest, is one of the poorest and most densely populated parts of the country.

In a country where less than 1 in 5 people in rural areas have access to improved sanitation and 40 percent of people use unsafe water sources, it is feared that the hurricane will worsen an already precarious situation.

Cholera is endemic and with more than 27,000 suspected cholera cases reported already this year – an estimated one third of them children – any damage to water and sanitation infrastructure or large scale displacement could put children and families at greater risk of infection.

UNICEF is working to support the government’s humanitarian response. Lifesaving supplies for 10,000 people are in place and ready to be distributed to the most affected families in the worst hit areas. They include water bladders and chlorination tablets, hygiene kits and mosquito nets.

How to help: For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution to UNICEF’s emergency relief efforts in the region, contact the US Fund for UNICEF:

Website: www.unicefusa.org/Matthew
Toll free: 1-800-FOR-KIDS
Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10038

As with any emergency, in the event that donations exceed anticipated needs, the US Fund will redirect any excess funds to children in greatest need.
 
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