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Kiwis show generosity in face of overwhelming Haiti disaster

17th July 2013 Posted in: Emergencies
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New Zealanders are pulling out their wallets to help the survivors of the devastating 7.3 earthquake that struck Haiti on Wednesday.

Up to 100,000 people may have died, with some 3.5 million people affected by the massive quake, huge numbers of which are likely to be children. Many office buildings, including government and UN offices, along with houses and schools have collapsed, and  essential infrastructure has been severely damaged

UN Children’s Fund staff based in Haiti have been providing emergency aid since the quake hit the heavily populated areas of Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and Carrefour. Their efforts are being rapidly boosted with the arrival of emergency aid supplies and additional personnel.

UNICEF NZ Executive Director, Dennis McKinlay, says that New Zealanders have been quick to support UNICEF’s emergency appeal for Haiti.

“We have been blown away by the enormous level of generosity and support.

“The Haiti earthquake is has been absolutely devastating and the impact seems to be worse with every passing day.

“I encourage people to keep up their support so that we will be able to provide the necessary emergency aid to help the several millions of people affected by this tragic disaster.”

The first wave of UNICEF emergency supplies – enough for 10,000 families – has already been airlifted into Port-au-Prince. These include tarpaulins, water containers, water purification tablets, oral rehydration sachets, tents and trauma kits. Further emergency supplies and personnel are arriving by air and land over the coming days, including 45 tonnes of materials expected over the weekend.

Mr McKinlay says that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world with the second-highest population density in the western hemisphere.

“Close to half of Haiti’s population of 10 million are children under 18 years of age. They are the most likely to suffer from this disaster and are particularly vulnerable to the affects of water-borne diseases, malnutrition, lack of health services, psychological trauma, and no access to education.

“UNICEF is working closely with the Government, other UN agencies and NGOs to best coordinate the aid effort for children and their families and to get the most efficient use of relief supplies.”

UNICEF is the lead UN agency in the key areas of water, sanitation and hygiene, protection, and nutrition.

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