World March 4, 2024 | 3:38 pm

NGO warns: Haiti’s children face urgent threats

Port-au-Prince, Haiti.-  Children in Haiti face significant risks of falling prey to gender violence, forced recruitment by organized crime groups, sexual assaults, and child marriage, with girls being particularly vulnerable, according to the humanitarian organization International Plan, which raised concerns on Monday.

These findings stem from the Multisector Analysis of Needs in Haiti conducted at the end of 2023 in the Artibonite department (central Haiti), based on the testimonies of 500 girls and boys. The report sheds light on issues such as sexual assault, food insecurity, conflict, and mental health problems. It comes to light on the eve of International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8.

The report highlights that some girls are compelled to undergo sexual exploitation and abuse to earn money or meet their families’ needs, leading to early pregnancies, sexual violence, and school dropouts.

Early marriage is a stark reality for girls aged 13 to 17, primarily due to their parents’ lack of resources to support them.

Regarding cases of sexual abuse, the document states that some parents reach extrajudicial agreements with the perpetrators, involving financial or material compensation to the family or even marital coexistence between the victim and the aggressor.

The interviewed minors also disclosed incidents of forced recruitment by armed groups, particularly among those who were poorer and had discontinued their education.

“Allasane Drabo, the country director of Plan International Haiti, emphasized, “When girls speak about the urgent need to confront serious violations of human rights, protect children and youth, we must listen and act. Lives are at stake. Girls and boys are being forced into wielding weapons or donning wedding dresses instead of receiving education or proper nutrition.”

Given the dire situation in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, amid high levels of violence and food insecurity, Drabo emphasized the urgency for the international donor community to increase its support, warning, “Haiti cannot afford to wait even one more day.”

Source: EFE

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