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Emergency relief efforts in Haiti: an update

We are now providing temporary care for around 290 young unaccompanied and orphaned children, and our SOS Children's Village in Santo is nearly full. Currently we also have 66 distribution centres supplying over 9,000 children with food, and medical treatment if required, every day. The aim in the coming weeks is to expand to ensure that such basic needs of around 40,000 children are met.

Caring for unaccompanied and orphaned children

Haiti Girl in community centre happy to be fedOn 17 February, 126 children arrived in the SOS Children's Village in Santo; in total there are now 287 children who have been taken in since the earthquake, and that number is growing daily. For many of the children, it is still not clear who will take care of them in the future, whether or not they have any relatives who can look after them, or whether anyone from their families survived the earthquake. For some of the children, it is certain that they have no relatives left; the disaster has orphaned them completely. Some children on the other hand were brought into the SOS Children's Village by their relatives, because they are currently not able to provide adequate care for children in the terrible conditions of the tent cities. In the SOS families, up to 20 children are looked after (including around nine already there), and each family has one SOS mother and two family helpers. All other unaccompanied children who arrive in the coming weeks and months will be accommodated in stable, lightweight prefabricated houses, which are currently being built on the football field of the SOS Children's Village.

The young children who have arrived most recently - 62 girls and 64 boys - were registered in emergency camps, where they had to live in what were sometimes life-threatening conditions. Not all these children are unaccompanied or orphaned, but all of them desperately need a safe and secure environment, and adequate nutrition. Of the 126 newly-arrived children alone, 25 had to be treated in a nearby Brazilian hospital, and many children will also receive trauma therapy. In their visits to the tent camps, the SOS teams register many children who are seriously malnourished and dehydrated, a great number of whom are so ill as to be critical. Alongside the children who were already living at the SOS Children's Village in Santo in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince before the earthquake, 437 children are now being cared for at the location in Santo.

Guaranteeing basic supplies for up to 40,000 children


Before the earthquake, SOS Children's Villages provided family assistance via 16 community centres. After the earthquake, the number of these centres dramatically increased and now there is a total of 66 such sites, which cater for the needs of 9,000 children every day. When the SOS Children emergency aid programme has reached its full extent in the coming weeks, there will be around 266 centres, providing around 40,000 children with basic supplies.

Reconstruction Haiti earthquake map

After the acute emergency and the medium-term aid phases, which are to guarantee the provision of materials to meet children's basic needs (fixed for a period of two years), SOS Children's Villages is planning a comprehensive reconstruction programme over a period of ten to twelve years. The main focus areas are: family-based alternative care models and facilities for children with no parental care; the building of family houses and the creation of child-friendly spaces (playgrounds etc.); the construction and commissioning of schools as well as the development of expertise in the education sector; health care centres, with particular emphasis on mother-child-care; knowledge transfer and training in the public sector in the field of children's rights and child protection, supportive measures for children, and law in consideration of children's rights.

Cooperation with other organisations and authorities

SOS Children's Villages participates in countless partnerships and joint initiatives with other aid organisations (for example, UNICEF and the Red Cross) and the local authorities. SOS Children's Villages also regularly takes part in the UN's "cluster meetings", where all the large aid organisations coordinate their activities. SOS Children's Villages has received donations in kind from other organisations many times, such as the supply of food to children in the SOS Children's Village, as well as for aid measures in various locations in the surrounding districts, from water to medical help, to tents. Regular deliveries of various relief supplies come to Haiti from many countries, which are either generously funded by companies and private donors, or which can be purchased by SOS Children's Villages with monetary donations. Most of the supplies are food and water, but there are also tents, medicines, blankets, mattresses, hygiene items, cooking appliances, building materials, and so on. SOS Children's Villages also participated in a big meeting in Panama, with representatives from UNICEF, Save the Children, World Vision and Plan International, where the main focuses were the issue of child protection, and measures for securing the future of children in the context of the reconstruction of Haiti. 

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