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By Margaret Quilter
21 March 2024

For decades, the children of Haiti have endured so much: natural disasters, disease outbreaks, political instability, gang violence, poverty, and a near collapse of the medical and education system as many teachers, health and social workers have fled the country. 

After the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021, Haiti has been plagued by gang violence. Port-au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti, descended into complete lawlessness on 3 March 2024 after armed groups pried open prisons, releasing thousands of inmates and demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who had already fled the country. 

In Port-au-Prince, violence has led to the displacement of thousands of people, with most of them being women and children.
In Port-au-Prince, violence has led to the displacement of thousands of people, with most of them being women and children.
© UNICEF/UNI519095/Joseph

2 in 3 children are in desperate need of humanitarian aid 

In the first months of 2024, extreme violence and unrest have swept through Port-au-Prince with a total disregard for the lives and wellbeing of children and their families.  

There have been reports of human rights abuses, including kidnappings, sexual violence against women and children and the destruction of homes by fire and bullets, internally displacing thousands of families. Hospitals have also been forced to evacuate their patients, including newborns, due to fear of attacks by armed groups. 

Devastatingly, more than 362,000 people are internally displaced including 172,300 children, and hunger and life-threatening malnutrition are at a record high across the country. Education has also been severely impacted, with over 1,000 schools being closed, leaving hundreds of thousands of children without access to learning.

"The Haitian population is caught in the crossfire; spaces for children have been transformed into battlegrounds; critical social services are on the brink of collapse; the country’s ports and airport are compromised; and the humanitarian response that millions of children and civilians rely on as a lifeline of last resort has been crippled."

Catherine Russell
UNICEF Executive Director

Displaced families fleeing violence in Haiti.

How UNICEF is helping Haiti’s children 

Even before the current crisis, UNICEF was on the ground, delivering lifesaving vaccines and malnutrition services and ensuring access to education, safe water, sanitation, and hygiene. Since the latest escalation, UNICEF has been stepping up efforts to protect families and provide lifesaving support—especially to children and their families who are trapped and cut off from essential services. 

UNICEF is also calling for an end to armed violence against children and communities and is prioritising psychosocial support programs for children and protection services for victims of gender-based violence. 

In Port-au-Prince, escalating violence has become a grim reality. The latest violence has led to the displacement of thousands of people, with most of them being women and children.
In Port-au-Prince, escalating violence has become a grim reality. The latest violence has led to the displacement of thousands of people, with most of them being women and children.
© UNICEF/UNI519099/Joseph