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World Vision Fears for Haiti’s Lost Children

( [email protected] ) Jan 18, 2010 01:55 PM EST
Hundreds of children are at risk after becoming separated from their parents in the Haiti earthquake, warns World Vision. The Christian aid agency said it was “deeply concerned” about the number of children leaving the devastated capital Port-au-Prince to find help in neighbouring towns.
People walk on a street in downtown Port-au-Prince, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010, five days after a powerful earthquake hit Haiti. AP

Hundreds of children are at risk after becoming separated from their parents in the Haiti earthquake, warns World Vision.

The Christian aid agency said it was “deeply concerned” about the number of children leaving the devastated capital Port-au-Prince to find help in neighbouring towns.

Staff from its Dominican Republic branch are providing food, water and medical care for hundreds of children in the border town of Jimani. Some of the children came alone, while others had lost their parents on the way.

“Because the quake struck during school hours, there are hundreds of children who simply have not found their parents,” said World Vision’s spokesperson Kate Nicholas. “Separated children are incredibly vulnerable at this time and need protection, food and water.”

World Vision said efforts to distribute aid had been hampered by broken infrastructure, limited airport capacity, and security concerns. Thousands of US marines and UN peacekeepers have been deployed to help maintain order in Port-au-Prince, while there are reports of chaos and arguments over landing clearance at the US-controlled airport.

World Vision said it had still been able to reach families with relief items already stocked in the country, but warned that clean water, medical supplies and emergency shelters were running low. It has so far distributed first-aid items to 10 hospitals in and around Port-au-Prince.

Christian Aid has dispatched £100,000 for the response and plans to begin distributing food on Tuesday.

Nick Guttmann, head of Christian Aid’s humanitarian division, said: "The practical needs in tackling this disaster are enormous. The question of access must be speedily addressed to get relief to the worst hit areas.

"It is also crucial to ensure that there are secure areas where supplies can be distributed in a fair manner. The rapid provision of food, water, medical supplies and shelter and blankets is essential."

There are fears the final death toll may reach 200,000. An estimated 300,000 people are displaced and living outdoors.

The first confirmed Briton to be killed in the disaster was UN worker Frederick Wooldridge, 41, from Kent. Hopes are fading for fellow UN worker Ann Barnes, 59, who has not been heard from since last Tuesday’s earthquake.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister is hugely grateful for the work that Frederick and others were doing in the UN Stabilisation Mission: helping to build a stronger Haiti, and giving people hope where they had none.

“The Prime Minister's thoughts are also with the families and friends of those British Nationals whose whereabouts have yet to be confirmed.”

The UK Government has raised its contribution to the relief effort from £6.2 million to £20 million, while an appeal launched by the DEC last week has so far raised £12 million.

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