Rampant Gang Violence in Haiti Triggers Surge in Child Malnutrition
In the heart of Port-au-Prince, a local clinic, which has been serving the community for over three decades, stands as a beacon of hope amidst the chaos brought about by armed groups dominating the city. The facility is tirelessly battling an alarming spike in child malnutrition, exacerbated by the relentless gang violence plaguing Haiti.
The Face of Malnutrition Amidst Chaos
Every day, the Fontaine hospital, founded by Jose Ulysse, witnesses between 120 and 160 children arriving for vaccinations. It is during these visits that screenings reveal heart-wrenching cases of malnutrition. According to Ulysse, “In some extreme cases, the children appear skeletal and exhibit respiratory issues – a typical symptom of severe malnutrition.” While moderate cases are provided with nutritional aid and sent home, the most critically malnourished are admitted and closely monitored until their health stabilizes. Ulysse highlights a distressing surge, stating that 40 to 50 children require nutritional assistance daily, a significant increase from just 12 a day a few years back.
Gang Violence’s Devastating Ripple Effect
Unicef data from May reveals a staggering 30% rise in infant malnutrition within a year, directly correlated with the intensifying gang violence. The Fontaine center witnesses children who are clear victims of this societal collapse – emaciated, showing signs of rickets, and facing life-threatening undernourishment. The UN agency reports that one in four Haitian children now grapples with chronic malnutrition. The pervasive gang-related threats in Port-au-Prince, including snipers and harrowing acts of violence, make it perilous for parents to access essential facilities like the Fontaine clinic. Bruno Maes, Unicef’s representative in Haiti, commented in May on the heart-breaking scenario where parents are forced to abandon their children, unable to provide the necessary care and nutrition, mainly due to the escalating violence.
Ulysse acknowledges the invaluable assistance from Unicef, which has played a pivotal role in keeping the Fontaine clinic operational amidst such adversities.
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