UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) — One year after the devastating Haiti earthquake, more than 250,000 children are without adequate schools, and it may take years for reconstruction, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.
Despite a challenging environment and limited funding, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has rebuilt or rehabilitated 234 classrooms and provided school kits to 74,000 students, said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Almost 100 high-performance tents were installed in damaged schools.Haq said that UNICEF has also repaired 22 drinking water systems reaching 440,000 people. It also provided 23,000 hygiene kits to 121,000 people. The spokesman said that at the end of last year, UNICEF requested 97 million U.S. dollars for the 2022 Humanitarian Appeal for Children to reach 950,000 people, including 520,000 children in Haiti. But, it received only 30 percent of the request and is asking for 64.6 million U.S. dollars in urgent funding to continue helping the most vulnerable people.
Reconstruction also has been delayed by insecurity, mostly deadly fighting among gangs. “Schools are more than places of learning, they are safe havens for children traumatized by a succession of events: the COVID-19 pandemic, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, and pervasive insecurity and poverty,” said Bruno Mars, UNICEF representative in Haiti. “Far too many children will not have access to adequate educational services in the next school year, or receive adequate healthcare services, drink safe water, or have a fair chance to grow and develop to their full potential.”
The massive Aug. 14, 2021, earthquake hit the southwestern departments of South, Nippes and Grand’Anse, killing 2,200 people and injuring 12,200 others. The tremor destroyed or damaged 1,250 schools, 97 health facilities and 55 water systems, leaving over 340,000 children without adequate educational conditions and 800,000 people without access to healthcare, drinking water or hygiene services, UNICEF said. Of the 1,250 schools destroyed or damaged by the earthquake, the majority still have not been rebuilt, the agency said.