Deadly Hurricane Matthew leaves 130,000 children out of school in Haiti

Children's welfare after natural disasters

A boy called Junior in a shelter at Peru School after his family’s home was destroyed in Port-au-Prince


Hundreds dead. Tens of thousands left homeless. Crops destroyed and cholera outbreaks feared.

Hurricane Matthew caused a trail of destruction across Haiti – and has devastated the education system.

The storm severely damaged schools and has left an estimated 130,000 children out of school, according to Save The Children. 

The charity said many schools it supports have been damaged and others are being used as temporary shelters. But efforts are being made to get children back into education as quickly as possible.

Matthew – the strongest hurricane in the Caribbean since Felix in 2007 – has left more than 300,000 people in shelters.

Today the death toll in Haiti stood at more than 800. Although it struck three days ago, a clearer picture of the damage is only now beginnining to emerge.

The 140mph winds and rains destroyed more than 29,000 homes in a country still recovering from a devastating earthquake that killed 90,000 people six years ago, said authorities.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Haiti said 100 schools could be badly affected, mostly in the Grand South Departments.

Many children are reported to have lost all their books and school supplies while schools are now being used as shelters for people who have lost their homes.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said: “156 temporary shelters are mostly in school areas. Many schools were damaged.

“In order to resume education immediately after the emergency, the Ministry of Education has already called upon partners to support affected schools.”

Save The Children has worked in Haiti for more than 40 years and supports 131 schools, including 27 in the departments of Sud and Grand’Anse, as well as 39 in the capital Port-au Prince.

The charity said that, in addition to an emergency response team, it was deploying its emergency health unit staffed by specialists from around the world.

Emergency teams will co-ordinate with the Haitian government and other aid agencies on the ground to help children and families affected.

Part of the response will include setting up “child-friendly spaces” to provide children who are unable to go to school with a safe and protected space.

Kevin Novotny, Save the Children’s Country Director in Haiti, said: “Our first priority is to ensure that the thousands of children and families who have been badly affected are given the immediate assistance needed.

“This includes keeping children safe and getting them back into school as soon as possible.”

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