NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - October 04, 2016) - More than 4 million children may be exposed to the damage of Hurricane Matthew, UNICEF said today as the Category 4 storm made landfall on the impoverished Caribbean island.
"This is the worst storm Haiti has seen in decades and the damage will no doubt be significant," said Marc Vincent, UNICEF Representative in Haiti. "Waterborne diseases are the first threat to children in similar situations -- our first priority is to make sure children have enough safe water."
Strong winds and torrential rains are battering the island, raising the risk of floods and landslides. The airport remains closed and children have been told to stay home from school -- particularly as many schools are being used to shelter evacuees.
Haiti is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake, with 55,000 people still living in shelters. The southern coast, where the storm is expected to hit the most, is one of the poorest and most densely populated parts of the country.
In a country where less than 1 in 5 people in rural areas have access to improved sanitation and 40 percent of people use unsafe water sources, it is feared that the hurricane will worsen an already precarious situation.
Cholera is endemic and with more than 27,000 suspected cholera cases reported already this year - an estimated one third of them children -- any damage to water and sanitation infrastructure or largescale displacement could put children and families at greater risk of infection.
UNICEF is working to support the Government's humanitarian response. Lifesaving supplies for 10,000 people are in place and ready to be distributed to the most affected families in the worst hit areas. They include water bladders and chlorination tablets, hygiene kits and mosquito nets.
Multimedia materials will be available at: http://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIFM2233
How to help: For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution to UNICEF's emergency relief efforts in the region, please contact the U.S. Fund for UNICEF:
Toll free: 1-800-FOR-KIDS
Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10038
As with any emergency, in the event that donations exceed anticipated needs, the U.S. Fund will redirect any excess funds to children in greatest need.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.