Port-au-Prince, HAITI–(ENEWSPF)–Jan.19, 2010. One week after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti and left tens of thousands of children and adults dead or homeless, Save the Children is racing to bring lifesaving supplies to quake survivors and warning that children are increasingly endangered.
“The scale and complexity of this disaster are enormous, and children and their families are still struggling to find the basic necessities of life. Food, water, shelter and medicine are in short supply — and conditions in makeshift camps are degrading. The threats to children’s health and well-being grow every day they do not receive help,” said Annie Foster, the team leader of Save the Children’s emergency response. “While we face infrastructure and logistical challenges, they are not insurmountable. We are doing everything we can to bring supplies into the country and deliver them to those who need it most.”
Save the Children has distributed food, water and hygiene supplies to a hospital in Port-au-Prince, which is affiliated with two orphanages, reaching more than 2,000 people. More lifesaving aid is on the way. The organization received 15 tons of medicines and medical supplies, half of which will be provided to Port-au-Prince medical facilities and the other half which will be used in Leogane on the coast.
Haiti faces the highest rates of infant and child mortality in the Western hemisphere with diarrhea, respiratory infections, tuberculosis among the leading causes of death.
“Even before this disaster the situation for children in Haiti was precarious – 80 percent of the population lived on less than $2 a day, one in four children were suffering from malnutrition. Mothers and babies were dying of preventable illness before last week’s earthquake. The earthquake has decimated the health infrastructure – jeopardizing the lives of even more children” said Foster.
As well as the base already established in Port-au-Prince, the agency is establishing field offices in Jacmal, Leogane and Petit Goave. Save the Children has begun setting up mobile clinics and distributing supplies in these hard hit areas.
“Our team’s identified enormous needs in these areas, where little aid has arrived. One week after the earthquake, those people also urgently need our help” added Foster.
The health systems in Haiti are still overwhelmed with the massive numbers of injured; they are lacking supplies and staff. Save the Children has flown in a team of 12 doctors to help meet this growing need.
It is not only children’s physical well-being that is of concern. Children also are suffering from emotional distress from the earthquake, as well as from living the daily hardships of life amid the destruction.
In an emergency, children are the most vulnerable and devastation on this scale can lead to the separation of large numbers of children from their families.
Fosted also noted, “In a humanitarian crisis, mechanisms and social structures that protect children, such as schools, families and hospitals, often fall apart. Unaccompanied and separated children should be provided with services aimed at reuniting them with their parents or customary caregivers as quickly as possible. Interim care should be consistent with the aim of family reunification, and should ensure children’s protection and well-being.”
On Monday, Save the Children started setting up the first of many Child Friendly Spaces planned for shelters and camps housing earthquake survivors. Forty children have already been registered and we are expecting another 250 children to start activities today. These safe spaces protect children and give them a place to play and recover from the suffering they have endured and witnessed.
“We know that children are very resilient. Given the right care and support they can recover from what was a terrifying ordeal. Our Child Friendly Spaces will help children regain a little normalcy in these highly abnormal times and have a chance to come together and play with other children. This is the first step in their long road to recovery,” said Foster.
Save the Children will be receiving six plane loads of supplies with urgently need relief items in the coming week.
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Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.
Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Save the Children USA is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, a global network of 29 independent Save the Children organizations working to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 120 countries. Follow us onTwitter and Facebook.