On 14 August 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. This further exacerbated an already challenging humanitarian situation, shaped by persistent political instability, socioeconomic crisis and rising food insecurity and malnutrition, gang-related insecurity and internal displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic, the expulsion of Haitian migrants from several countries in the Americas, and the Haitian-Dominican migration challenges.
In response, UNICEF Haiti is supporting the Government and humanitarian partners to ensure access to and continuity of basic services, including water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, health, nutrition, child protection and social protection services. In addition, UNICEF is facilitating disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness, as well as activities addressing violence against children, including gender-based violence and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.
UNICEF is requesting US$97 million to meet the humanitarian needs of Haitian children and their families. This includes residual needs for the earthquake response together with other urgent humanitarian response requirements.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
Humanitarian needs abound and persist after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck south-western Haiti on 14 August 2021. Earthquake impact needs assessments report more than 2,200 deaths, 12,000 people injured, and around 130,000 homes partially damaged or destroyed, leaving hundreds of thousands people homeless and in urgent need of assistance.
With 97 partially damaged or destroyed health systems in the hardest earthquake-hit departments, hospitals and clinics are struggling to keep pace with increased life-saving needs while ensuring continued access to essential health services, including maternal and child health, as a critical response priority. Access to safe WASH services and products and to awareness messages and behavior change approaches remains a significant need. At least 26,200 people remain displaced and sleeping in 68 shelters and makeshift settlements. With 89 water systems suffering extensive damage, these vulnerable populations are particularly exposed to the risk of waterborne diseases, acute respiratory infections and COVID-19.
The earthquake struck with Haiti still reeling from the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on 7 July 2021 and the escalation of gang violence affecting 1.5 million people and displacing 19,000 people since the end of 2020. Humanitarian access to some of the most affected areas remains a challenge, due to gang-related insecurity and damaged infrastructures.
The increased repatriation of Haitian migrants from across the Latin America and Caribbean region since mid-September 2021 has also been compounding humanitarian needs. More than 10,000 migrants have been returned, among them 2,000 children who are in need of access to basic services, including education, and have been exposed to child protection risks such as family separation, trafficking and gender-based violence (GBV).
The combined impact of natural hazard-related disasters, persistent political and socioeconomic crisis, gang-related insecurity, forced returns and internal displacement as well as COVID-19 is being felt by the most vulnerable. Prior to the earthquake, an estimated 4.4 million people in Haiti were food insecure and an estimated 217,000 children were suffering from moderate or severe wasting and nearly 3 million people required emergency health care, among them 1.2 million children and 400,000 pregnant women and adolescent girls. The earthquake’s impacts and recent returns have exacerbated these vulnerabilities.
Furthermore, over 3 million children have been unable to attend school for months at a time, due to political and security challenges and COVID-19 lockdowns over the past two years.20 In earthquake-affected areas, preliminary Ministry of Education assessments indicate extensive damage across 925 schools, affecting more than 300,000 children.