Street children, girl servants severely affected by Haitian violence – UNICEF

19 April 2004

The violence that brought about the change of Haiti’s government earlier this year has had a severe impact on the 2,000 street children in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and on the 120,000 girls who work as domestic servants across the country, according to a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) assessment mission.

The violence that brought about the change of Haiti’s government earlier this year has had a severe impact on the 2,000 street children in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and on the 120,000 girls who work as domestic servants across the country, according to a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) assessment mission.

“The conflict affected every child in Haiti because of an environment of impunity. The increase in violence meant that the supply of food was considerably reduced, medical help was virtually unobtainable, and schools were closed for months. The crisis is over, but its effect on children is still of real concern to us,” UNICEF representative Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans says.

The mission’s report says children were recruited by armed gangs in almost a third of the 31 surveyed zones and now live in fear of retribution for any violence in which they took part, while in more than 15 per cent of the surveyed zones, children were reportedly murdered in the violence. A zone is a town or city and its suburbs.

Children were shot and wounded or were beaten by armed gangs in more than a third of the surveyed zones and the number of child rapes increased significantly in the urban areas. A human rights organization reported that nine girls were raped in the town of Cabaret over the course of only two days, UNICEF says.

Schools and hospitals were often the targets of violence and looting, it says.

Nearly half of primary-school-aged children are not in school and 80 per cent of those eligible do not go to secondary school. Haiti has a literacy rate under 45 per cent, the lowest in the Americas, and the recent crisis has exacerbated the situation, UNICEF says.

 

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