Making Children Safe Needs To Be Top Priority in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 16 /CNW/ - The recent earthquake in Haiti affects one in three Haitians. World Vision Canada calls on the international community to remember an often-forgotten statistic: almost 40 percent of the Haitian population is under the age of 14. Many of those affected by Tuesday's earthquake are children.

World Vision Canada President and CEO Dave Toycen has been in Port-au-Prince witnessing this distressing statistic first hand. "There are so many children right now, by themselves, just roaming the streets in shock."

"I wish I could find their parents. These children should not be alone."

Many children have been separated from their parents and loved ones by this earthquake and, in conditions without health care, water or food, are exceptionally vulnerable.

Children separated by a natural disaster may take days, even weeks, to reunite them with their families. In the meantime, children, already dealing with injuries, infection and psychological stress have no way of knowing if their parents have even survived. This problem is only exacerbated as people move away from affected areas.

World Vision is preparing to establish "child-friendly spaces" in the quake zone as soon as the necessary supplies arrive in Haiti. Child-friendly spaces are structured and safe areas set up specifically for children and youth in crisis situations, where they can play and receive support services.

"World Vision is calling on the Haitian authorities, the United Nations and the international community participating in search and rescue efforts to make reuniting children and families a priority in their efforts," says Toycen.

"We, and other emergency responders, must do our best to provide children with protection and make it a priority to reunite them with their families as soon as possible."

    -   World Vision donors support more than 52,000 children in Haiti,
        including more than 10,800 children sponsored by Canadians.
    -   World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy
        organization dedicated to working with children, families and
        communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves
        all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

SOURCE World Vision Canada

For further information: For further information: To interview World Vision staff or for more information, please contact: Yoko Kobayashi, (905) 565-6200 ext. 2151, (416) 671-0086 (cell),; Britt Hamilton, (905) 565-6200 ext. 3973, (416) 419-1321 (cell),

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