October 12, 2016

Haiti's children need help to deal with trauma of Hurricane Matthew

Billy Briggs

Education in emergencies writer

A girl lays her school notebooks to dry in a classroom that she is staying in with her family, in Les Cayes. The school is being used as a shelter.


“Right now, the biggest effort is trying to help teachers and people who run youth programmes to better understand the issues that they are going to be facing,” said Dr Kathryn Adams, speaking from the city of Gonaïves in Haiti.

She is executive director of Lidè, a foundation she set up with American writer Holiday Reinhorn and actor Rainn Wilson after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed up to 200,000 people.

Six years on from that catastrophe the Caribbean nation is dealing with the aftermath of another natural disaster following Hurricane Matthew, which devastated Haiti last week and killed more than 1000 people.

An emergency appeal for $119 million was launched this week to help local humanitarian groups and United Nations agencies deal with the aftermath.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said it needed at least $5 million to meet the immediate needs of 500,000 affected children.

More than 300 schools have been damaged and others are being used as temporary shelters - leaving over 100,000 children with no education. But some schools in the south of Haiti are expected to begin reopening from October 18.

The hurricane was the strongest to hit the region in a decade and survivors are mourning the victims as fears of an increase in cases of cholera grow.

Haiti has been experiencing a cholera outbreak since 2010 when the waterborne disease reached the island via Nepalese UN troops.

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