Children 'still reeling' a year after Haiti quake: UNICEF

7th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Children are still reeling from the devastating earthquake in Haiti, where 380,000 youngsters are still displaced nearly a year after the tremor shattered their lives, the UN Children's Fund said on Friday.

"One year on, children in Haiti are still reeling from the lingering impact of the 12 January earthquake, which remains the single largest catastrophe to hit the country in centuries," UNICEF said in a report on the plight of children in the recovery effort.

"Just over one million people remain displaced -- 380,000 of them children -- living in a total 1,200 displacement sites."

More than half of Haiti's four million children do not attend school while construction of new school buildings to replace those torn apart by the tremor is hampered by problems with rubble clearance and land tenure, the report said.

Temporary facilties and equipment allowed 720,000 to get back to classrooms over the past year. But just 1,265 of the 4,948 children registered as being alone after the quake were reunited with parents or carers.

"Children in particular suffered and continue to suffer enormously because of successive emergencies experienced in 2010, and they have yet to fully enjoy their right to survival, health, education, and protection," said UNICEF's representative in Haiti, Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans.

New York based UNICEF underlined that the impoverished Caribbean country suffered from huge shortcomings even before the earthquake struck, killing 250,000 people in and around the capital Port-au-Prince and leaving 1.9 million displaced.

About 1.2 million children were regarded as "extremely" vulnerable to disease or violence beforehand.

Chronic malnutrition affects one in three under five year-olds, despite emergency efforts to help 102,000 infants and their mothers with nutrition last year.

Water and hygiene conditions were already battered and on the decline, with only about a fifth of people having access to basic sanitation facilities by 2006, 29 percent less than in 1990, according to the agency.

Two million Haitian children were immunised in the aftermath of the earthquake against diseases such as polio, diphtheria, and measles.

© 2011 AFP

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