U.N. agency appeals for aid to help Haiti weather hurricane season

(Reuters) - UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, appealed on Friday for international aid to help prepare violence-plagued Haiti for a dangerous Atlantic hurricane season that could be deadly for the island's many displaced people.

The hurricane season that traditionally begins in June and runs through November is forecast to be severe this year. A gang-fueled crisis has devastated Haiti, and the U.N. estimates 360,000 people in the Caribbean nation are displaced.

"With every cyclone, every tornado, every flood, children will lose their homes, their livelihoods, their lives, and the season has barely started," Bruno Maes, UNICEF representative in Haiti, said in a statement.

"Support from the international community is essential for us to enhance our preparedness and response capabilities for the worst-case scenarios," he said.

UNICEF said a late May tornado in northern Haiti, which left some 4,350 people homeless, marked an "omen of a potentially devastating cyclone season."

The agency said it was preparing for the season by pre-positioning food, medical supplies and other necessities to shorten delivery times in the country. Haiti's supply routes are controlled by armed groups, slowing aid efforts and endangering humanitarian workers.

A combination of climate change heating ocean temperatures and the periodic La Nina phenomenon has led weather forecasters to predict a highly active season. Colorado State University has said the Atlantic could face 23 named storms this season, including 11 potential hurricanes.

Last year's Atlantic season was the fourth-most active on record with 20 named storms.

At a summit last month, leaders from small island developing states, many in the Caribbean, urged wealthy nations to honor their pledges to lower emissions and help heavily indebted island nations mitigate the impacts of climate change.

(Reporting by Sarah Morland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)