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Hurricane Matthew: thousands of children out of school 


Thursday, 6 October 2016 - 8:43pm

Save the Children are deploying its Emergency Health Unit amid growing health concerns. Up to 130,000 vulnerable children nationwide are estimated to be out of school following the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Matthew, Save the Children is warning. A number of schools supported by the charity have been damaged, and many others are being used as temporary shelters.

Save the Children is also preparing to deploy a small team from its rapid response Emergency Health Unit, staffed by specialists from around the world. The initial team, made of up doctors and health experts, will touch down in Haiti tomorrow and will initially focus on cholera prevention and provision of basic health services.

As the most powerful Caribbean hurricane in nearly a decade struck the southwest coast of Haiti at 7am local time Tuesday, Save the Children staff on the ground reported major devastation with severe damage to houses and buildings as a result of landslides and floods following the storm. Roads were also blocked and crop plantations decimated. Families are seeking refuge in some of the 1,300 temporary shelters that have been set up across the country as homes have been destroyed.

Save the Children’s emergency response teams, in coordination with the government other aid agencies, will work with staff and partners on the ground to assess the immediate needs and help children and families affected. Part of Save the Children’s emergency response will include setting up “child-friendly spaces” to provide children unable to go to school with a safe and protected space. Here they can receive support from trained staff and can play with other children, while deal with the aftermath of the hurricane.

“Our first priority is to ensure that the thousands of children and families who have been badly affected are given the immediate assistance needed,” said Kevin Novotny, Save the Children’s Country Director in Haiti. “This includes keeping children safe and getting them back into school as soon as possible.”

The full extent of the damage is yet to be assessed, but up to five million people are estimated to be affected, with 300,000 thought to be in need of humanitarian assistance. Latest reports suggest up to 98 people in Haiti have been killed. There is also concern that the existing cholera outbreak could spread rapidly, as water shortages have been exacerbated in certain areas.

The destruction of crop plantations and reports of livestock being killed in Acquin district and Sud department will worsen existing food insecurity. Large parts of the population in Haiti are particularly vulnerable as 50,000 people are still displaced from the 2010 earthquake.

The government has issued a Red Alert and officially requested UN assistance. The UK Government announced yesterday that it would be sending out humanitarian experts to help those affected.

ENDS

For spokesperson interviews in Haiti, please contact the Save the Children press office on +44 (0)207 012 6841 or +44 (0)7831 650409.

Notes to editors

Save the Children has worked in Haiti for over 40 years. It supports 131 schools, including 27 in the Departments of South and Grand’Anse and 39 in Port-au Prince. Through local partner Lumos, Save the Children also supports four orphanages and provides technical assistance in water, sanitation and hygiene and newborn health to the Ministry of Health.