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Jan-20-2010 18:23printcommentsVideo

Helping Haiti's Earthquake Orphans

The United States is loosening its visa requirements in order to expedite adoptions of 900 Haitian children.

Haiti orphans
Photo and video courtesy: UN

(PORT-AU-PRINCE/SALEM) - One week after a catastrophic earthquake turned what was already a desperately poor part of the world into a full fledged humanitarian emergency, the staff of an orphanage in the Haitian capital of Port-au Prince are trying to figure out what to do with all the children who have recently lost their families.

The orphanage, which houses 40 children, was operating in a much larger building before the quake rendered it unusable. Fifty more children are expected to arrive shortly.

Edith Salome who is an Orphanage Caretaker, said, "We are still having problems with finding food, medicines, and diapers for the children. And we are a bit tight here, because before we had a big house. But the house collapsed. So now we are living in two small rooms as refugees."

UNICEF is prioritizing health clinics, hospitals and orphanages in their deliveries of water dispatching 140 water trucks to over 140,000 people today.

Julien Atchade is a UNICEF Water and Sanitation Specialist.

"We are deploying our efforts to cover the entire city. We have some priority interventions - orphanages, health clinics, and a few other strategic points. And certainly the major encampments, where we have already 72 water distribution points."

Separated and unaccompanied minors are being taken into the interim centers being set up by UNICEF to house, feed and care for 900 children who have found themselves alone in the midst of this emergency.

The United States is loosening its visa requirements in order to expedite adoptions of 900 Haitian children.

Illegal adoption was an issue of concern before the earthquake. Amidst the chaos that followed it has become an even more urgent matter as many children have been taken out of the country without following proper legal procedures.

While adoption can be a viable option for many children who have lost their parents in the earthquake it is still reasonable to think that many people are still out there looking for their children or the children of their relatives.

To prevent the illegal departure of many children UNICEF is deploying two specialized staff to control documentation at the airport.

The video in this report was recorded by UN crews on the ground in Port-au-Prince:

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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