World-known footballer Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona and Argentina national team) completed his first field visit since he was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in March to highlight the milestones and challenges faced by children in Haiti. The one-day visit took Messi to Carrefour Aviation, a camp where 50,000 Haitians who lost their homes during the 12 January earthquake now live in tents.
There are few places in the world today where children are as vulnerable as Haiti, Messi said in an interview. “Despite some progress, over 1.2 million children in this country are exposed to exploitation and abuse, 800,000 live in tents in spontaneous sites where they lack adequate sanitation and have limited access to safe water, education and health facilities.” He added that he had never seen anything like it.
Messi also visited the only health institution in Port-au-Prince not damaged by the earthquake and Argentine soldiers who had been deployed to Haiti to ensure stability. Messi arrived from Panama, where he had played a charity match on Wednesday.
UNICEF offers children in Haiti opportunities to engage in sports activities to help them through the trauma they have suffered.