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Gun violence worsens child malnutrition crisis in Hati

  • March 26, 2024
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The alarming increase in armed violence in parts of Haiti poses an increased risk of a worsening of the nutritional crisis plaguing the country, UNICEF warns today.

Recent findings from the analysis conducted by the Integrated Food Security Classification Framework (IPC) show an alarming 19% increase in the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Haiti in 2024. Still according to According to the latest IPC analysis, 1.64 million people face acute food insecurity at Phase 4 (emergency level), increasing the risk of child wasting and malnutrition. , particularly in eight regions of the country.

The armed violence hitting the Artibonite and West departments, where Port-au-Prince is located, has the effect of limiting the delivery of aid and contributing to the collapse of a health system already weakened, all factors which imminently threaten the lives of more than 125,000 children exposed to the risk of severe acute malnutrition.

“The clashes and instability in Haiti have consequences that go far beyond the risks associated with the violence itself. The situation is creating a health and nutrition crisis that could cost the lives of countless children,” said Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF. “Thousands of children stand on the brink, even as life-saving supplies stand ready to be distributed once the violence ends and roads and hospitals reopen. This nutritional crisis is entirely man-made. The people of Haiti urgently need security, so that they can access the vital services they depend on and so that aid workers can reach the children and families who desperately need them. »

Since January, the deteriorating security situation in Haiti has continued to worsen the humanitarian crisis, with serious consequences for UNICEF’s ability to store, distribute and replenish needed supplies.

Earlier this month, one of 17 UNICEF containers was looted in the main port of Port-au-Prince. The container contained items critical to the survival of mothers, newborns and children, including resuscitators and associated equipment. Due to persistent insecurity, only two out of five hospitals are operational throughout the country, and only one out of four health centers operate in the Artibonite department, the country’s main rice-growing region.

At the same time, the current insecurity in Port-au-Prince has made it extremely difficult to distribute health supplies and nutritional products to the estimated 58,000 children suffering from severe wasting in the metropolitan area. As for the Martissant road – the only humanitarian corridor linking Port-au-Prince to the southern regions – it remains blocked, leaving around 15,000 children suffering from malnutrition in the grip of a catastrophic situation.

The insecurity which affects a large part of the Haitian capital particularly hampers the delivery of ready-to-use therapeutic foods used to treat children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, as well as their resupply, suggesting breaks in the supply chain. supply and significant consequences if the situation persists.

Despite this extremely unstable environment, UNICEF is redoubling its efforts to protect families, especially those finding themselves trapped and cut off from essential services, and to provide them with life-saving assistance. Working with the Government and its partners, the organization helps maintain national and regional systems and services and, in the most unstable areas, the local services on which children and families depend.

Also, in this context, UNICEF calls for:

· An acceleration of efforts by the international community to protect civilians, restore law and order to the streets, and ensure the safe movement of humanitarian workers and vital supplies, including ready-to-use therapeutic food ‘job ;

· An increase in flexible and immediate funding to meet the needs of the most vulnerable as the situation evolves, ensuring that aid reaches affected populations as quickly as possible;

· The protection of schools, hospitals and other essential infrastructure on which children depend, as well as the safeguarding of humanitarian spaces.

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