Haiti: ‘Triple threat’ of cholera, malnutrition and violence puts young lives at risk

A young child is screened for malnutrition in Cité Soleil, Haiti.
A young child is screened for malnutrition in Cité Soleil, Haiti.
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CRC members urged the international community to support authorities in the Caribbean country in guaranteeing the rights of millions of boys and girls to live, grow, learn, and thrive. 

Last month, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a sanctions regime for Haiti, targeting gang leaders and those who finance them, in a bid to ease months of violence and lawlessness that have fuelled a humanitarian crisis. 

Gangs, violence and shortages 

Gangs have been blocking access to the main fuel terminal in the capital, Port-au-Prince, which has affected delivery of healthcare and other critical services, at a time when Haiti is confronting a growing cholera epidemic. 

The country also continues to face political and economic meltdown. 

Amid the surge in violence, children’s rights to life, education, safe water, sanitation, health and nutrition are under threat, the UN Committee said.  Escalating insecurity has meant that most have not gone to school since the start of the academic year on 3 October. 

UN children’s agency UNICEF has projected that nearly 100,000 under-fives face severe acute malnutrition, an alarming situation as malnourished children are at even greater risk of cholera. 

Recruitment fears and rapes 

Many of the poorest Haitian families have no safe drinking water, soap for handwashing, and basic sanitation, thus increasing cholera risk.  Additionally, hospitals are only able to offer limited services due to fuel shortages and insecurity.

The Committee reported on other threats, as many Haitian children live in fear of being recruited, kidnapped, injured, or killed by gangs.   

Children as young as 10, mainly girls, also have been subjected to hours of gang rape in front of their parents.  A quarter of girls, and one fifth of boys in the capital have been sexually abused. 

Comply with rights obligations 

“The Committee urges Haiti to comply with its international human rights obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography,” the statement said. 

Haitian government authorities and non-State actors have also been urged to protect the rights of all children, and to facilitate humanitarian access to the most vulnerable families. 

The 18 independent experts who sit on the Child Rights Committee were appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

The Committee meets in the Swiss city, and normally holds three sessions each year. 

Members are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. 

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