Haiti is facing multiple crises, including growing socio-political instability and deteriorating economic conditions, rising food insecurity and malnutrition, the Haitian-Dominican migration dynamic, waterborne disease epidemics, and high vulnerability to natural hazards, all of which have been further exacerbated by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In response, UNICEF will support the continuity of basic services, including water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, health, nutrition, child protection and social protection services. UNICEF will also facilitate disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness, and interventions to address gender-based violence and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.
UNICEF is requesting US$75 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children in Haiti, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and address the negative socioeconomic impacts of confinement measures and the economic lockdown. This includes US$36 million for the education response and US$11.5 million for the WASH response.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
Haiti continues to face multiple crises, including growing socio-political instability and deteriorating economic conditions, rising food insecurity and malnutrition, waterborne disease epidemics, the Haitian-Dominican migration dynamic, and high vulnerability to natural hazards, all of which have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deteriorating economic conditions resulting from confinement measures are putting greater pressure on the livelihoods of vulnerable families, depleting their financial resources8 and exacerbating existing humanitarian needs. An estimated 4.1 million Haitians (nearly 40 per cent of the population) are food insecure, and an estimated 168,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition, particularly in the metropolitan region of Port-au-Prince. An estimated 2.3 million people – including 1 million children and 315,000 pregnant women and adolescent girls – require emergency health care, which has become difficult to access to due COVID19. Access to WASH services remains limited, heightening the risk of waterborne disease outbreaks.
In addition to the 60 school days that students lost during the national lockdowns that took place between September and November 2019, 4 million children missed out on learning during the four-month COVID-19 school closures. As a result, most schoolchildren have lost out on an entire year of education. Although all schools reopened by mid-August with sanitary protocols, a significant number of children are at risk of falling behind on their learning and dropping out of school altogether.
Limited access to basic social services due to shutdowns and the interruption of routine health services and psychosocial and recreation activities have increased children's risks of abuse, exploitation and violence, including gender-based violence. Children in institutions and in detention may be vulnerable to the rapid spread of the virus if appropriate hygiene and prevention measures are not established.
The Haitian-Dominican migration dynamic remains a concern, as increased numbers of Haitian returnees have been observed at the border. An estimated 200,000 crossings have been reported since mid-March.6 Many of the returning children arrive in Haiti under precarious conditions, without resources and separated from their families.
The cholera epidemic is now coming to an end, with no cases confirmed since February 2019. However, prevention, surveillance and alert response efforts must be maintained to keep the number of cases at zero and officially declare the end of the epidemic by 2022.5