Haitian children are vulnerable in capital's violence, UNICEF says

FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator moves a tyre to a burning barricade during a protest for the recent killings of police officers by armed gangs, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti January 26, 2023. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol/File Photo

(Reuters) - More than one million Haitian children are under constant threat of violence in the area of the capital Port-au-Prince because of chronic lawlessness, the regional director of children's agency UNICEF said on Friday.

UNICEF last year warned that Haitian children are threatened by malnutrition, armed violence, and an outbreak of cholera. Many schools were unable to start the academic year because gangs in September blocked fuel distribution, creating a humanitarian crisis.

Haiti's political leaders should unite around ensuring children have access to education, food and drinking water, said Garry Conille, UNICEF's Latin America and Caribbean director.

"If you don't do this, you're actually creating a pipeline for the gangs, and this is something that we can't afford," he said in an interview with Reuters.

UNICEF is seeking $210 million for its Haiti operations in 2023, more than double what it requested in 2022, due to the growing need to provide services for children, he said.

It is also seeking to address gender-based violence and violence toward children in Haitian homes, where corporal punishment remains common.

"Children not only find the opportunity to learn (at school), but it's also more and more a safe haven in the neighborhood and a way to escape all sorts of violence," Conille said.

"I think the international community needs to continue to maintain its focus and provide the necessary resources so that these children can get the support they need."

A spate of police murders by gangs spurred a protest by police officers who on Thursday attacked the residence of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and later swarmed the main airport.

(This story has been corrected to remove reference to children out of school after UNICEF clarified it cannot confirm the figure.)

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Caracas; editing by Grant McCool)

Article type: free
User access status:
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Next In World

Ukraine says eastern town of Avdiivka could become 'second Bakhmut'
EU agrees plan to send a million artillery shells to Ukraine
Italy's language watchdog says 'no' to gender-neutral symbols
Explainer-Why is Macron in so much trouble over pension reform?
EU executive offers 1 billion euros to help rebuild Turkey from earthquake
Eighty years on, Thessaloniki Holocaust survivor recalls cart of trampled bodies
Iran violations may amount to crimes against humanity -UN expert
Russia defies Putin arrest warrant by opening its own case against ICC
EU to impose further sanctions on Iran for human rights violations -Germany
Macron's government faces 'moment of truth' over pension reform

Others Also Read