UNICEF's Role and Response to the Haiti Emergency

UNICEF’s Role and Response to the Haiti Emergency
U.S. Fund for UNICEF Staff Maria Choi 03 and Brian Meyers '00

Two Hamilton graduates, have found a home at U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Maria Choi ’03 as the Marketing Manager and Brian Meyers ’00 as the Director of Development and Emergency Fund Raising.  UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund and has been working to provide services for children and families in Haiti since 1949.  Nearly half of Haiti’s population is under the age of 18, so the recent earthquake has hit children extremely hard.  With 60 years of experience on the ground in Haiti, UNICEF was immediately tapped to organize and lead all recovery efforts related to clean water and sanitation, child protection, nutrition and immunizations.  Thanks to an incredible outpouring of support from Americans, the US Fund for UNICEF has already raised almost $50 million to support relief efforts in Haiti, with 100% of every donation going directly to UNICEF programs in Haiti.

Although many UN staff also perished during the earthquake, UNICEF and UN partners have been able to provide large-scale support for children and families since the early hours following the disaster.  In an emergency situation, the potential for disease outbreak is extremely high, and UNICEF and its partners have already provided clean water to over 850,000 Haitians, distributed hygiene kits for 500,000, and addressing safe hygiene practices and sanitation via radio broadcasts and building latrines.  UNICEF has also partnered with the World Food Program to distribute over 22,000 food rations, provide life saving supplements to over 1,000 malnourished children, and train over 7,000 nutrition caregivers to help over 1,000 mothers and infants participate in baby-friendly feeding activities. UNICEF is also working to immunize over 500,000 children below the age of seven against measles, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, with over 60,000 children immunized to-date.

Finally, UNICEF is also setting up “child friendly spaces” so that kids can escape from the chaos of the disaster.  In addition to creating a registry for all unaccompanied children in the country, UNICEF has distributed kits with blankets, sleeping mats, towels, t-shirts and toiletries for over 10,000 children to date.  UNICEF staff and our local Haitian partners are also helping kids continue their studies through “school in a box” kits that act as a remote school and cost only $250.  This investment in Haiti’s children is absolutely crucial to the long-term recovery of the country.  In the coming months, UNICEF will work with the Haitian government and other partners to develop a long-term, sustainable plan for Haiti’s future that ensures that Haiti’s children and their rights are at the center of the recovery effort.
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