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Haiti

Of all the countries in the Western Hemisphere, none has faced greater challenges to improve the lives of its children than Haiti. Save the Children has been helping support community development in in the impoverished nation since 1978, providing child protection, education and health care to vulnerable children and families. When disasters strike, Save the Children is there to help meet the unique needs of children. Save the Children is focused on delivering food, hygiene kits and other urgently needed supplies, protecting vulnerable children, restore education and more.

At least one million Haitians are living overseas, about half of them in the United States. Haitians are also migrating in large numbers to the Dominican Republic, Canada, Guadeloupe, France, French Guiana, Bahamas, Cuba, Martinique and the Netherlands Antilles. 

Haiti is plagued by very high levels of violent crime. Sexual violence is a serious problem, targeting women and girls almost exclusively. Police ineffectiveness and abuse contribute to overall insecurity, and there are worrying reports of police brutality towards street children.Although more and more police units have received training on human rights and arrest procedures, the police continue to experience severe shortages of personnel, equipment, and training. There are also concerns that children in detention in other parts of the country are not separated from adults.

Malnutrition is widespread, and the high infant, under-five and maternal mortality rates and low life expectancy in Haiti were already worrying before the eartquakes, and are now even more so. 

Access to health services in the rural areas is crucial, as child survival and development continue to be threatened by early childhood and infectious diseases, diarrhoea and malnutrition. Lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation in Haiti are very worrying, especially in rural areas.

There is a high HIV/AIDS prevalence among adults and children, affecting the number of children infected at birth and the number of children orphaned because of HIV/AIDS. There is also concern about the lack of knowledge among adolescents on how to prevent HIV/AIDS in spite of real efforts by the Government to raise public awareness on this issue.

Working children are at particular risk of physical abuse and sexual violence, especially young girls working as live-in maids in exchange for board and lodging. There are increasing reports that recruiters (known as “courtiers”) are searching for children, targeting large families living in poverty and enticing them to give up their children by making empty promises of a brighter future for them. These children are victims of internal trafficking and are vulnerable to all forms of exploitation, including sexual violence.

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