News and Events: Press releases

Statement on UNGEI Secretariat on the situation in Haiti

NEW YORK, 25 January 2010 - The United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) is deeply concerned about the situation in Haiti and calls on all parties to ensure that children - particularly girls - are safe.

“We have a collective duty to make certain that Haiti’s girls and boys are protected from exploitation and harm during this difficult time,” said Cheryl Gregory Faye, Head of UNGEI. “Girls are at particular risk of abuse, sexual exploitation and trafficking during this emergency situation.”

Girls in Haiti have long been vulnerable to violence and neglect. It is in emergency situations, as in the current one in Haiti, that girls need protection the most.
Measures are being taken to increase security with the available resources. However, the fact that parents and caregivers have died and institutions such as churches and schools have been destroyed in the disaster, leave girls increasingly exposed.

Re-establishing education is equally important, so that both boys and girls are provided with structured safe spaces to learn and play. Access to quality education is among the best ways to mitigate the psychosocial impact of emergency situations as it helps infuse a sense of much needed normalcy and routine into the lives of affected children.
Prior to the earthquake, half of Haiti’s children did not attend school.

UNGEI is also deeply concerned about the boys and girls who have been separated from their families and caregivers. This greatly increases their vulnerability. The risk of sexual and gender-based violence is often exacerbated in emergency situations such as Haiti’s. It’s therefore critical to establish mechanisms to prevent and mitigate these risks.
It is the responsibility of all those involved in the relief effort to always keep in mind and act in the best interests of all Haiti’s children, both girls and boys.
Partners on the ground, including the Haitian Government, the Red Cross, Save the Children and UNICEF, are establishing safe spaces for children. The process of registering unaccompanied children has commenced.

In its rebuilding efforts, it is critical for the international community to ensure that the education system is built back better to provide the children of Haiti – girls and boys alike – with a quality education that is their right.

Our hearts go out to the families of the countless children and adults who lost their lives in this tragedy. Our thoughts and best wishes are with all the injured and with the many others rebuilding their lives.

UNGEI Secretariat
25 January 2009


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