Accessibility links

Breaking News

Earthquake Puts Haiti's Orphans in Greater Peril

Earthquake Puts Haiti's Orphans in Greater Peril
Earthquake Puts Haiti's Orphans in Greater Peril

Even before Haiti's terrible earthquake struck, the Caribbean nation was one of the poorest in the world with a large population of orphaned children. Now orphanages there are struggling to survive and are looking for ways to get the children out of the country.

An eight-month-old boy found in the ruins three days after the earthquake. Doctors here at this Israeli field hospital in Port-au-Prince did what they could to avoid amputating his leg. But his injuries were just too severe, his parents' whereabouts unknown. Dr. Ram Sag says he has treated many children without parents.

"Many of the children who come here come without the parents. It takes some time, it can be some hours, or it can be some days," he said.

What to do with Haiti's orphans is of great concern to aid organizations. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says before the quake, there were 380,000 children living in orphanages or group homes in this country of nine million people. Estimates are that tens of thousands more children lost their parents in the quake. We visited this orphanage in Port-au-Prince. Unable to access funds in a bank account, it is running dangerously low on supplies and all of the children are sick. Nadine Francique is one of the administrators.

"We really need some food, water and money for medication because all the kids have diarrhea," she said.

International organizations are trying to speed up adoptions already in process and they're sending teams to evacuate newly adopted children to other countries.

Michael Geilenfeld runs a home for former child slaves and street children in Port-au-Prince. He managed to evacuate his children to a house outside of the city. He told us the current environment is very dangerous for orphaned children.

"It was hard before this, you know," he said. "And now, the assistance that was there before isn't there so they are struggling even more."

The United Nations is also sending in a team to protect children against kidnapping, sex predators and sex trafficking. Officials say the best option is to get the children out of the country to safety.