Current Project: Haiti
Ranked 149th by UNDP in terms of human development (out of 182 countries), the Republic of Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Americas. More than one in four Haitians is underfed. The life expectancy is 61 years. The literacy rate is 52%. 500,000 children do not go to school. In 2009, two-thirds of Haitians were affected by unemployment or underemployment.
The Republic of Haiti is a country of 10 million people, half of which are less than 20 years old. Located in the western part of Hispaniola, the largest of the Caribbean Islands after Cuba, it is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the Caribbean Sea and separated from Cuba to the west by the channel of wind. The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern part of the island.
The 12 January 2010 earthquake was the cause of an unprecedented emergency situation for children. Dropouts from school, separated from their families, they are much more vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and to exploitation and trafficking of children. Before that date, the children of Haiti were already facing significant threats of violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, exploitation and abandonment. At present, the risks are magnified. According to the 2010 UNICEF report, 1.5 million children have been affected by the earthquake. 500,000 have been left extremely vulnerable. 800,000 are living in "spontaneous settlements", 330,000 were displaced from Port au Prince and finally, 500,000 are in the need of assistance from Child Protection. Moreover, services to child victims of sexual violence are virtually non-existent.
Two thousand Haitians minors are living on the streets. These disadvantaged and vulnerable children are affected by violence, malnutrition, drug use and sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV / AIDS. They often try to survive through prostitution or engaging in odd jobs. They are easy prey for pedophiles and sex offenders.
More than 2.5 million children have been out of school. Indeed, 90% of schools were stricken by the earthquake, which is 23% of all schools in the country. Nearly 1,500 educational staff died in the earthquake. The stakes are very high in providing for a future for these vulnerable children. In May 2010, the Federal Police and Interpol investigated and tried to determine if Brazil had become a major route for international trafficking of Haitian children. The story of an 11 year old boy kidnapped in Haiti and left alone in a Brazilian subway station in December 2009 raised suspicions.
An unknown number of children have left Haiti for Brazil in recent months. Two months after the earthquake, a Bolivian citizen and a couple of Haitians were arrested in Bolivia on suspicion of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labor. With them were 27 children and adolescents aged 6-17 years. The reasons for trafficking may be: adoption, sexual exploitation, slavery or organ trafficking. The authorities do not know how many Haitian children were trafficked. In June 11, 2012, Haiti ratified the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of International Adoption, which aims to protect children against the risks of illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions. Yet some traffickers do not hesitate to create NGOs or set up orphanages to obtain children and sell them for adoption or sex trafficking.
It is in this environment of extreme danger that Haitian children fight to survive each day. It is in this context that STOP chose to intervene, using their resources and expertise to protect these children.