Haiti violence displacing one child every minute: UNICEF

United Nations: Violence raging in troubled Haiti is forcibly displacing an average of one child every minute, with around 300,000 already affected, the UN children’s agency warned on Monday.

Displaced children make up more than half of the 600,000 people who have been forced from their homes by the violence, mainly in the capital Port-au-Prince, much of which is controlled by gangs, according to UNICEF.

“The number of internally displaced children in Haiti has increased by an estimated 60 percent since March — the equivalent of one child every minute — due to continued violence by armed groups,” the report said.

Haiti has long been rocked by gang violence, but conditions worsened sharply in late February when armed groups launched coordinated attacks in Port-au-Prince, saying they wanted to topple then-Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

“Children in Haiti continue to bear the brunt of many dangers, including horrific violence and critical levels of displacement,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

“The humanitarian disaster unfolding before our eyes is taking a devastating toll on children. Displaced children are in desperate need of a safe and protective environment and increased support and funding from the international community.

When displaced children and teenagers are forced to move – often without their families – they run the risk of dropping out of school and becoming vulnerable to sexual assault, exploitation and abuse.

In addition, young people are increasingly joining armed groups spreading terror in a country where 90 percent of the population lives in poverty and three million children are in need of humanitarian aid, UNICEF warned.

Kenyan police finally arrived in Haiti last month on a long-awaited international mission to help stabilize the Caribbean country.

The violence in Port-au-Prince has affected food security and access to humanitarian aid, with much of the city in the hands of gangs accused of abuses including murder, rape, looting and kidnapping.

The multinational Kenyan force, given the green light by the UN Security Council last year, has been detained for months due to problems with its deployment in Kenyan courts.

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