Reports from Haiti suggest that aid is now beginning to move more freely and getting into the hands of those who need it most. Among the most vulnerable, of course, are the children. UNICEF have been working in Haiti since 1949. Their spokesman Patrick McCormick spoke to euronews from New York.
We are hearing reports that there are operations underway to evacuate orphans from Haiti to the United States, and many other countries around Europe. What is the UNICEF position on that?
McCormick: Well, first of all those reports are not confirmed. Our position is quite clear. We’re in the middle of a post-disaster, search-and-rescue, saving-lives operation here. First of all we need to find these children, feed them, take care of them, and trace and register them. The tracing is critical. We need to find out whether they are indeed orphans, whether they’re just unaccompanied; whether they’ve been separated from their families. And only after then could we begin that sort of operation that you’re talking about.
euronews: The numbers are difficult to come to terms with throughout this whole disaster – the predicted number of dead, the predicted number of orphans. What is UNICEF’s projection?
McCormick: Haiti already had a lot of orphans. To put a figure on it is extremely difficult. I would say that we’re looking at potentially 100,000 – it could be more, it could be less but the numbers are big for such a small island and small population.
euronews: But can that big number be coped with?
McCormick: Well it’s going to have to be. This is an opportunity for us to improve things for the orphans that were there before the earthquake and the ones that have been made orphans by the earthquake.