Port-au-Prince, October 4, 2017 – One year after Matthew passed over the country and ravaged the South and Grand’Anse, the affected people are still healing their wounds. But there are also visible signs that life is trying to resume its course. The gardens are beginning to give fruit, some houses have been rebuilt. Even if the marks of the disaster are still there, Haitians want to move forward.
The courage of Haitian families and communities who have recovered from so many catastrophes is admirable. And UNICEF is proud to be one of the organizations that provide ongoing support to vulnerable families, especially the children.
As in the past, UNICEF was among the first to respond to the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew; as administrative procedures have been simplified, teams joined those already in the South more quickly. During emergencies, no waste of time. People needed everything, it was necessary to find means of protection for children in temporary shelters, distribute drinking water, provide nutrition services, control cholera – including the identification and treatment of suspected cases, and so many other needs to be filled, quickly.
UNICEF has worked with the Haitian government and partners to provide this humanitarian assistance as soon as possible. Matthew’s record has been catastrophic, the cyclone caused losses of life, houses destroyed and agriculture in these areas were devastated. People have coped with dignity. It is up to the humanitarian partners and the government to provide sustained support.
We take this opportunity to acknowledge the selflessness and courage of our UNICEF colleagues who, during this period of emergency, have been on all fronts. This is to help the organization fulfill its mandate of the well-being of children. We also thank all the donors, both institutional and individual, who allow our actions to go directly to the most vulnerable families and communities.
Getting up from a disaster is not easy. Especially since the conditions were already precarious in these places. However, it is necessary to continue the support to the population as well as the awareness on the risks linked to the disasters.
One year after Matthew, we are facing a choice; natural disasters have always existed, they will continue to exist (Irma and Maria, are still in the minds). Haiti, on the cyclone route, as well as other countries in the Atlantic, has no choice but to adapt. If we want to avoid the painful episodes caused by the vagaries of the weather, we must prepare ourselves.
The dialogue initiated by UNICEF through consultations with young people in Grand’Anse and in the South aimed to raise awareness of the issue of risk and disaster management. Many admitted that they did not know what to do during the cyclone. They thank UNICEF, because now they know. And they will spread their knowledge in their localities. The UReport project pursues a similar objective – To communicate with the country’s adolescents, collecting their impressions and providing information on a wider scale.
The interactive map, which is part of Togetherness (Ensemble) that we’re launching , reminds us through poignant photos and stories of the progress of the field support. They are no longer cold statistics but human faces. For we must not forget the impact on human beings, nor the role of these in recovery. We cannot afford to forget it.
Going to the most remote areas, to the most vulnerable communities to support the Government in the quest for basic social services that are accessible, is our goal. Before, during and after Matthew – our goal is to enable children to achieve their full potential, without distinction, as our motto says: “For every child …”
UNICEF Haiti Representative