Haiti: Post-Earthquake January 17 Updates

January 17, 2010 10:30 a.m.

Yesterday a list of Haitian orphanages including their location and approximate number of children was presented to USAID by Congressman Jim Cooper. This effort to deliver emergency aid, continues to be a collaborative effort by many Members of Congress, non-profits, adoption service providers and adoptive families.

Thanks to everyone for this major effort.

Senator Mary Landrieu, Congressman Jim Cooper and other Congressional leaders have issued a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking for the Secretary’s consideration of Haitian orphans in the Department’s response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The letter details specific actions and includes a list of known Haitian orphanages.

We strongly supports the requests made in the letter including:

§  consideration of humanitarian parole for children in the process of being adopted,

§  the provision of temporary care in the U.S. for orphaned children,

§  the channeling of aid and safe shelter to Haiti’s most vulnerable.

We are honored to have assisted in bringing the needs and locations of Haitian orphans to the Members of Congress and for their immediate response and heartfelt leadership. We extend our sincere appreciation to Senator Landrieu, Congressman Cooper and other Members of Congress for their continuing efforts to ensure the safety of Haiti’s most vulnerable orphans.

Given the reports being filed with Joint Council, perhaps the most urgent requests made by Members of Congress is for aid and safe shelter. Today has been filled with nightmarish reports from aid workers, orphanages and staff. Sadly, we reported earlier on the death of Molly Hightower, an orphanage volunteer, who was killed in the earthquake. Orphanages being robbed of their supplies and their staff threatened by locals makes safe shelter an immediate need.

We again thank those Members of Congress who responded by requesting Secretary Clinton’s direct involvement – let’s hope that the supplies get to the kids in time and that humanitarian parole is granted.

To view the letter, please click here.

We continue to receive information and questions regarding the departure from Haiti of 150 orphan children from the BRESMA orphanage. Through conversation with the BRESMA program directors and government officials, we can again confirm that this is not the case.

However, we can confirm that approximately 17 U.S. families who were adopting Haitian orphans, were in Port au Prince at the time of the earthquake and had completed their adoptions, have received visas for their children to enter the U.S. An additional 5 children whose adoptive parents were scheduled to travel this past week and whose paperwork had previously been submitted to the U.S. Embassy, have received visas.

We continue to work with adoptive families to determine if their adoption is eligible for the issuance of a visa and are coordinating these efforts with the U.S. government.

For those who are not eligible, we continue to work towards the granting of humanitarian parole. This would allow the vast majority of children referred to families, to enter the U.S.

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