Friday, September 5, 2008

Save the Children Assisting Children in Storm-Ravaged Haiti

WESTPORT, CT-- Save the Children is assisting children and families affected by extreme weather in Haiti, which has been hit by three tropical storms since the middle of August.

Haiti was struck by Tropical Storm Fay on August 15 and 16, by Hurricane Gustav on August 26, and by Tropical Storm Hanna, which brought additional high winds and rain beginning September 1.

The government of Haiti has announced that approximately 250,000 people have been affected by Tropical Storm Hanna, with 60,000 currently in shelters. This follows the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Gustav, which affected 100,000 people. More than 15,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Extensive heavy flooding was reported in the following cities where Save the Children provides programs: Jacmel, Gonaïves and Hinche. The situation is particularly serious in Gonaïves, where flooding has paralyzed the city. Save the Children is sending a team to Gonaïves this weekend to assess immediate needs and plan for a long-term response.

Save the Children, which has worked in Haiti since 1985, is planning to assist displaced children in shelters in Gonaïves and Jacmel. The agency will establish child-friendly spaces to help address children's emotional and educational needs and to provide them a protective environment.

"In this very uncertain environment, children are at great risk -- but their needs are often overlooked in the chaos of the emergency," said Ned Olney, who heads Save the Children's humanitarian response unit. "Save the Children will work to ensure that children are protected, engaged and have the space to just be children while their parents go about the business of rebuilding their lives."

Save the Children also will seek to support the educational needs of children. As of Friday, September 5, the Ministry of Education had yet to decide on delaying the school year -- which officially begins Monday, September 8. Many school buildings have been damaged and are now being used as temporary shelters. Authorities in Jacmel have already delayed the start of the school year until early October.

Of the more than 150 schools Save the Children works with directly in storm-affected areas, 16 have reported structural damage. In addition, many parents have lost their means of making a living and lack the funds to pay tuition.

Source: Save the Children - MarketWire.Com

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