HONG KONG/PORT-AU-PRINCE/PANAMA CITY/GENEVA, 18 August 2021 – In the last few days we have witnessed two major crises unfolding in our world: a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday morning and the rapid escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan.
The devastating earthquake hit Haiti on August 14th, with major impact in the southwestern region. Estimated1.2 million Haitians, including 540,000 children, are affected, with official reports of over 1,400 deaths and 7,000 injured. More than 84,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed, along with public infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and bridges.
Right now, about half a million Haitian children have limited or no access to shelter, safe water, health care and nutrition. In its current estimates, UNICEF will need US$15 million to respond to the most urgent needs of at least 385,000 people including 167,000 children under the age of five for a period of eight weeks.
Criminal violence and insecurity complicate the humanitarian response, with main road controlled by gangs. Nevertheless, UNICEF was able to reach affected areas with medical supplies within hours of the earthquake, delivering medical kits to three hospitals in the area with enough supplies – including gloves, painkillers, antibiotics and syringes – to treat 30,000 earthquake victims over three months.
UNICEF and partners are also distributing tarpaulins for emergency shelter, latrines and showers; water reservoirs for safe water distribution; and hygiene kits including water treatment tablets.
Additional supplies, including education and recreational kits will be rapidly mobilized, and UNICEF is planning community-based engagement activities to prevent family separation and to ensure protection and psychosocial support for children.
UNICEF is working closely with the government and partners to carry out rapid assessments of children’s needs. The initial funding requirement will be reviewed and adjusted in the coming weeks as the impact on children and families becomes clearer.
Afghanistan has, for many years, been one of the worst places on earth to be a child. In the past few weeks it has got worse. With each and every day, the flaring conflict in Afghanistan is taking a greater toll on the country’s women and children. Half of the population – more than 18 million people, including nearly 10 million children, – need humanitarian assistance.
UNICEF is extremely concerned about the rapid escalation of grave violations against children, and deeply troubled about reports that children are being recruited into the conflict by armed groups. Many other children are traumatized after witnessing atrocities committed against loved ones. The long-running humanitarian crisis has become a triple crisis: conflict, a third wave of COVID-19 and drought. More than 390,000 people are internally displaced; 203,000 are children.
During 65 years in Afghanistan, UNICEF has built trust with communities; negotiated with all parties to conflict for access; and become adept at delivering life-saving supplies in difficult circumstances. With 11 offices operating across the country, UNICEF is able to reach every child.
So far in 2021, UNICEF has reached 1.7 million people with multi-sectoral packages of humanitarian assistance, meeting needs for water, sanitation and hygiene services, nutrition, essential health services including polio and COVID-19 vaccinations, education and child protection. Even in the face of the escalating crisis, UNICEF’s work for children and families in Afghanistan continues.
Here in Hong Kong, we appeal to the public to support UNICEF’s efforts to save children and families impacted by the Haiti earthquake and the Afghanistan crisis. Donation can be made through a designated webpage set up by UNICEF HK at https://donation.unicef.org.hk/en-us?programme_id=76