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Spiritual Vigil for Haiti


In view of the scope of the extended damage, high number of casualties and extreme human sufferings resulting from the massive earthquake that hit Port-Au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti, this Tuesday afternoon, it is suggested that we all extend our spiritual support to help the millions of souls struggling through these difficult conditions, not only those still alive but also those who just lost their lives and are still wandering, disoriented and shocked, in the other world, all of them in need of spiritual succor and loving support, so that they may sense that they are not left alone to face these difficult circumstances. Just like every other survivor of similar natural disasters around the world, but especially more so because of the extreme poverty and the repeated stressful challenges they have faced in recent years due to other natural calamities, our Haitian brothers and sisters of all ages especially need to be made to feel that despite the critical situation they are experiencing at this moment, brighter days will soon come to their devastated land as people and nations around the world are rallying right now in a magnificent show of human solidarity to bring them physical assistance and medical help.

So let us dedicate moments of prayers and meditations every day, and until the current situation of chaos and extreme distress is significantly reduced, to shower Haiti with the Light of Love and caring compassion and to also extend these vibrations to all the humanitarian workers and everyone involved there and around the world towards assisting in alleviating the suffering of Haitians. Let us also form the collective vision that international efforts and assistance will also be directed towards rebuilding at a much higher level of sturdiness the physical infrastructures of Port-Au-Prince and of the rest of this country so as to transform this terrible calamity into an opportunity to permanently eradicate poverty and the state of chronic underdevelopment of Haiti, and also to provide healing assistance both for the psychological traumas of all children, women and men, but also for the deeper underlying causes of all forms of abuses and social strife that have also been part of the long decades of turmoil and suffering, ever since Haiti gained its political independence from France 206 years ago.

Please help network this call for a Spiritual Vigil for Haiti to as many people as possible. Bookmark and Share

Jean Hudon
Focus Group Facilitator

PLEASE NOTE that the Special Peace Vigil for the Middle East will continue at least for another couple weeks.

This Spiritual Vigil for Haiti is archived at

Dutch Version - Spirituele Wake voor Haïti
Portuguese Version - Vigília Espiritual para o Haiti
French Version - Vigile spirituelle pour Haïti


Haiti Earthquake Relief: How You Can Help
A list of American humanitarian organizations providing assistance in Haiti and seeking donations

Haitian contacts, relief efforts
A list of Canadian humanitarian organizations providing assistance in Haiti and seeking donations

Google crisis responses - Support Disaster Relief in Haiti

To find all the mainstream media news (in English) about Haiti

The following provides some of the latest updates as well as some background information...

Haiti earthquake survivors await global aid effort (14 January 2010)
Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are awaiting the start of a global rescue effort in the wake of the country's devastating earthquake.BBC correspondents say the situation is increasingly desperate, with no coordinated rescue plan so far and aid only trickling in.The search for survivors continues but rescuers have little lifting equipment and are often using their bare hands.Tens of thousands are feared dead and up to three million affected. (...) The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier will arrive on Thursday. The USS Bataan, carrying a Marine expeditionary unit, is also on its way. The Pentagon said it was "seriously considering" sending thousands of marines.The World Bank is funding $100m of emergency aid.The World Food Programme is working on supplying 15,000 tonnes of food and the Red Cross has begun a $10m appeal.The help is desperately needed as there is no coordinated rescue at present.Doctor's assistant Jimitre Coquillon told Associated Press: "This is much worse than a hurricane. There's no water. There's nothing. Thirsty people are going to die."Haitian President Rene Preval could not give an official estimate of the dead, saying: "I don't know... up to now, I heard 50,000... 30,000." He spoke of how he stepped over dead bodies and heard cries of those trapped in the parliament building. CLIP

Haiti's history of misery (13 January 2010)
Haiti appears to have had more than its fair share of political upheaval, misrule, poverty and natural disasters. And, as has happened so often in the nation's past, just when the situation was getting better, a fresh catastrophe struck, writes Nick Caistor. CLIP

Haiti quake: The worst of places for a big tremor (13 January 2010)
It was immediately obvious that Tuesday's quake in Haiti would be an appalling natural disaster.This was a large tremor centred on an impoverished country with little recent experience or preparedness for such a major event of this kind. The buildings in the quake zones of major industrialised nations sit on damping systems that allow them to ride out tremors that not only shake them back and forth but also twist them in the same movement. The simplest concrete structures in the capital of Port-au-Prince will have crumpled under the same strain. Seismometers recorded a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 at 1653 local time (2153 GMT). The epicentre's proximity to Port-au-Prince - 15km (10 miles) - and the focus (or depth) of just 8km (5 miles) will have ensured the destructive forces were at their most intense."Closeness to the surface is a major factor contributing to the severity of ground shaking caused by an earthquake of any given magnitude," said Dr David Rothery, a planetary scientist with the Open University, UK. CLIP

Haiti earthquake captured on security camera

Country profile: Haiti
Haiti became the world's first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean state when it threw off French colonial control and slavery in a series of wars in the early 19th century.However, decades of poverty, environmental degradation, violence, instability and dictatorship have left it as the poorest nation in the Americas.A mostly mountainous country with a tropical climate, Haiti's location, history and culture - epitomised by voodoo - once made it a potential tourist hot spot, but instability and violence, especially since the 1980s, have severely dented that prospect. CLIP

History of deadly earthquakes (13 January 2010)
Earthquakes have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the last 100 years and improvements in technology have only slightly reduced the death toll. CLIP



Thousands feared dead, many trapped in Haiti

PM fears death toll above 100,000; food, water needed, aid worker says

NBC, and news services - updated 10:48 p.m. ET, Wed., Jan. 13, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Spending a second night on the streets, dazed earthquake survivors wandered past dead bodies Wednesday, crying for loved ones or seeking help. Officials feared the death toll could reach the tens of thousands.

Death was everywhere in this devastated city of 2 million. Bodies of tiny children were piled next to schools. Corpses of women lay on the street with stunned expressions frozen on their faces as flies began to gather. Bodies of men were covered with plastic tarps or cotton sheets.

Moreover, untold numbers were still trapped after the magnitude-7 earthquake Tuesday crushed thousands of structures — from schools and shacks to the local U.N. headquarters and the National Palace, where a dome tilted ominously above the manicured grounds.

Voices cried out from the rubble.

"Please take me out, I am dying. I have two children with me," a woman told a journalist from under a collapsed kindergarten.

The first cargo planes with food, water, medical supplies, shelter and sniffer dogs headed to the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation as charities on the ground warned they were running out of supplies, food and water.

At a triage center improvised in a hotel parking lot, people with cuts, broken bones and crushed ribs moaned under tent-like covers fashioned from bloody sheets.

"I can't take it any more. My back hurts too much," said Alex Georges, 28, who was still waiting for treatment a day after the school he was in collapsed and killed 11 classmates. A body lay a few feet away.

"There's no water," said doctors' assistant Jimitre Coquillon. "There's nothing. Thirsty people are going to die."

'Most horrific thing'

"It's the most horrific thing I've ever seen," Bob Poff, a Salvation Army worker in Port-au-Prince, told MSNBC. "We have to get food and water" quickly, he said, in describing conditions that range from stifling heat to numerous aftershocks. "We're trying to stay alive."

Haiti's leaders struggled to comprehend the extent of the catastrophe — the worst earthquake to hit the country in 200 years — even as aftershocks still reverberated.

"It's incredible," President Jean Preval told CNN. "A lot of houses destroyed, hospitals, schools, personal homes. A lot of people in the street dead. ... I'm still looking to understand the magnitude of the event and how to manage."

As nations around the world mobilized to send help, Preval said at least thousands of people were probably killed. Haitian Sen. Youri Latortue said 500,000 could be dead, but conceded that nobody really knows.

"Let's say that it's too early to give a number," Preval said.

Haitian Red Cross spokesman Pericles Jean-Baptiste said his organization was overwhelmed. "There are too many people who need help ... We lack equipment, we lack body bags," he said Wednesday.

Doctors Without Borders said its three hospitals in Haiti were unusable and it was treating the injured at temporary shelters.

"The reality of what we are seeing is severe traumas, head wounds, crushed limbs, severe problems that cannot be dealt with the level of medical care we currently have available with no infrastructure really to support it," said Paul McPhun, an operations manager for the charity.

Haiti seems especially prone to catastrophe — from natural disasters like hurricanes, storms, floods and mudslides to crushing poverty, unstable governments, poor building standards and low literacy rates.

Digging with bare hands

In Petionville, next to the capital, people used sledgehammers and their bare hands to dig through a collapsed commercial center, tossing aside mattresses and office supplies. More than a dozen cars were entombed, including a U.N. truck.

Nearby, about 200 survivors, including many children, huddled in a theater parking lot using sheets to rig makeshift tents and shield themselves from the sun.

Looting began almost as quickly as the quake struck at 4:53 p.m. on Tuesday and people were seen carrying food from collapsed buildings. Many lugged what they could salvage and stacked it around them as they slept in streets and parks.

People streamed into the Haitian countryside, where wooden and cinderblock shacks showed little sign of damage. Many balanced suitcases and other belongings on their heads. Ambulances and U.N. trucks raced in the opposite direction, toward Port-au-Prince.

About 3,000 police and international peacekeepers cleared debris, directed traffic and maintained security in the capital. But law enforcement was stretched thin even before the quake and would be ill-equipped to deal with major unrest.

The international Red Cross said a third of the country's 9 million people may need emergency aid, a burden that would test any nation and a crushing catastrophe for impoverished Haiti.

The United States and other nations began organizing aid efforts, alerting search teams and gathering supplies that will be badly needed in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.

The United Nations said Port-au-Prince's main airport was "fully operational" and open to relief flights.

Port-au-Prince's ruined buildings fell on both the poor and the prominent: The body of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, 63, was found in the ruins of his office, according to the Rev. Pierre Le Beller at Miot's order, the Saint Jacques Missionary Center in Landivisiau, France.

Senate President Kelly Bastien was among those trapped alive inside the Parliament building, and a day later had stopped responding to rescuers' cries, Latortue said.

Even the main prison in the capital fell down, "and there are reports of escaped inmates," U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva.

Haiti's Radio Metropole quoted France's foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, as saying hundreds of French nationals were missing.

Preval told the Miami Herald that he had been stepping over dead bodies and hearing the cries of those trapped under the rubble of the national Parliament building, describing the scene as "unimaginable."

"Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,'' he said.

Video obtained by the AP showed a huge dust cloud rising over Port-au-Prince shortly after the quake as buildings collapsed.

"The hospitals cannot handle all these victims," Dr. Louis-Gerard Gilles, a former senator, said as he helped survivors. "Haiti needs to pray. We all need to pray together."

Speaking from Port-au-Prince, Frank Thorp, Jr., told NBC's TODAY how he helped dig through the rubble of a building to rescue his wife. She had been trapped for 10 hours, he said.

Thorp said his spouse, who is a missionary in the country, was "doing OK" and suffered only bruises. However, a colleague who had also been buried lost both of her legs.

Thorp described conditions in Port-au-Prince as "worse than a war zone."

Even relatively wealthy neighborhoods were devastated.

People screamed for help at a wrecked hospital in Petionville, a hillside district that is home to many diplomats and wealthy Haitians as well as the poor.

At a destroyed four-story apartment building, a girl stood atop a car, trying to peer inside while several men pulled at a foot sticking from rubble. She said her family was inside.

"A school near here collapsed totally," Petionville resident Ken Michel said after surveying the damage. "We don't know if there were any children inside." He said many seemingly sturdy homes nearby were split apart.

U.N. peacekeepers were distracted from aid efforts by their own tragedy: Many spent the night hunting for survivors in the ruins of the local U.N. headquarters, where more than 100 people are missing.

The quake struck at 4:53 p.m. on Tuesday, centered 10 miles west of Port-au-Prince at a depth of only 5 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said. USGS geophysicist Kristin Marano called it the strongest earthquake since 1770 in what is now Haiti.

Most of Haiti's 9 million people are desperately poor, and after years of political instability the country has no real construction standards. In November 2008, following the collapse of a school in Petionville, the mayor of Port-au-Prince estimated about 60 percent of buildings were shoddily built and unsafe in normal circumstances.

Cuba said its existing field hospitals in Haiti had already treated hundreds of victims.

Venezuela's government said it would send a military plane with canned foods, medicine and drinking water and provide 50 rescue workers. Mexico, which suffered an earthquake in 1985 that killed some 10,000 people, planned to send doctors, search and rescue dogs and infrastructure damage experts.

Italy said it was sending a C-130 cargo plane Wednesday with a field hospital and emergency medical personnel as well as a team to assess aid needs. France said 65 clearing specialists, with six sniffer dogs, and two doctors and two nurses were leaving.



1963 - Hurricane Flora

More than 8,000 people are killed in the sixth-deadliest tropical hurricane ever in the Atlantic.

1994 - Hurricane Gordon

Nearly 1,000 Haitians are buried in mudslides caused by widespread deforestation.

1998 - Hurricane Georges

400 victims and 80 percent of crops destroyed.

2004 - Hurricane Jeanne

Floods caused by more than 13 inches of rain kill more than 3,000 people, mainly in Gonaives.

2008 - Four major tropical storms

793 people die, 310 are missing and 593 are injured in successive strikes by Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike. Nearly 23,000 homes are destroyed. The storms affect 800,000 Haitians and wipe out 70 percent of the country's crops. Damage is estimated at $1 billion, 5 percent of Haiti's GDP.

NOTE: There is a slideshow on the earthquake's aftermath with 55 most heart-wrenching pictures HERE (You have to scroll down a bit to find it on the right of the page)


Related news:

Quake 35-times more powerful than atomic bomb
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital Wednesday after a powerful earthquake flattened the president's palace, the cathedral, hospitals, schools, the main prison and whole neighborhoods. Officials feared thousands -- perhaps more than 100,000 -- may have perished but there was no firm count. Death was everywhere in Port-au-Prince. Bodies of tiny children were piled next to schools. Corpses of women lay on the street with stunned expressions frozen on their faces as flies began to gather. Bodies of men were covered with plastic tarps or cotton sheets. (...) Some of the biggest immediate health threats include respiratory disease from inhaling dust from collapsed buildings and diarrhea from drinking contaminated water.With hospitals and clinics severely damaged, Haiti will also face risks of secondary infections. People seeking medical attention for broken bones and other injuries may not be able to get the help they need and may develop complications.Dead bodies piled on the streets typically don't pose a public health risk. But for a country wracked by violence, seeing the dead will exact a psychological toll. (..) Most Haitians are desperately poor, and after years of political instability the country has no real construction standards. In November 2008, following the collapse of a school in Petionville, the mayor of Port-au-Prince estimated about 60 percent of buildings were shoddily built and unsafe normally.The quake was felt in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and in eastern Cuba, but no major damage was reported in either place.With electricity out in many places and phone service erratic, it was nearly impossible for Haitian or foreign officials to get full details of the devastation."Everybody is just totally, totally freaked out and shaken," said Henry Bahn, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official in Port-au-Prince. "The sky is just gray with dust." CLIP



Hundreds of thousands feared dead in Haiti

By Bill Van Auken -- 14 January 2010

Officials warned Wednesday that the earthquake that devastated the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince may have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, as the city’s residents piled corpses in the street and dug through the rubble for survivors.

Measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, the earthquake was the most devastating to hit the impoverished Caribbean island nation in 240 years. With its epicenter barely 9 miles from Port-au-Prince, a city of 2 million, and its source relatively close to the surface, the earthquake inflicted immense damage.

Thousands of buildings, ranging from shantytown dwellings and schools to the Presidential Palace, government ministries and the five-story Hotel Christoph, headquarters of the United Nations peace-keeping forces in the country, collapsed, many with occupants inside them. According to some estimates, 75 percent of the city’s structures were reduced to rubble.

“More than 100,000 are dead,” Felix Augustin, Haiti’s consul general at the United Nations, told reporters Wednesday.

Haiti’s prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, told CNN that “several hundred thousand may have died,” the cable news network reported.

“Because we have so [many] people on the streets right now, we don’t know exactly where they were living. But so many, so many buildings, so many neighborhoods totally destroyed, and some neighborhoods we don’t even see people,” CNN quoted Bellerive as saying.

CNN’s Gary Tuchman, one of the first US reporters on the scene, reported seeing corpses covered with sheets lining the streets and “truckloads of bodies.”

“There are absolutely no police, fire, emergency authorities on the scene, as the search for survivors continues,” he said. Haitian civilians frantically dug through the rubble with their bare hands in areas that they believed people could be trapped.

Reuters news agency described the scene in Port-au-Prince: “Sobbing and dazed people wandered the streets of Port-au-Prince, and voices cried out from the rubble. ‘Please take me out, I am dying. I have two children with me,’ a woman told a Reuters journalist from under a collapsed kindergarten in the Canape-Vert area of the capital.”

Among the cruelest effects of the earthquake was the destruction of all of the city’s hospitals. The humanitarian aid group Doctors Without Borders reported that all three of the facilities to which it normally refers patients are so severely damaged that they are unusable.

“The level of care we can now provide without that infrastructure is very limited,” said the group’s spokesman in Toronto. “The best we can offer them at the moment is first-aid care and stabilization. The reality of what we’re seeing is severe traumas—head wounds, crushed limbs—severe problems that cannot be dealt with at the level of care we currently have available with no infrastructure really to support it.”

The Red Cross in Haiti reports that it has run out of medicine. The agency estimates that some 3 million Haitians have been affected by the tragedy.

Meanwhile, aftershocks have continued to shake the city and the surrounding areas.

“Experts fear the worst could still be to come in Haiti,” reported the Financial Times of London. “ ‘There will be aftershocks for many weeks,’ said David Kerridge, head of earth hazards at the British Geological Survey; ‘there is a strong possibility of landslides, which may have caused many causalities in more remote parts of the island.’ ”

The earthquake is the latest and the most severe in a series of natural disasters that have struck Haiti. The country has still not recovered from four hurricanes and tropical storms that swept through the island in 2008.

These natural disasters come on top of, and their effects are brutally amplified by, the disaster created by capitalism and more than a century of imperialist oppression in this, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Haiti’s gross domestic product stood at $7 billion in 2008, roughly one third the amount that the Wall Street finance house Goldman Sachs set aside for 2009 year-end bonuses. According to World Bank figures, more than half of the population barely survives on less than $1 a day, while over two thirds of the Haitian people subsist on less than $2.

Life expectancy for Haitian men is little over 50.

Blackouts were daily occurrences in the Haitian capital before the earthquake. And, according to the World Health Organization, not a single Haitian city has a public sewage system and half the population lacks access to clean drinking water.

Now there is no electricity and no phone communication, water is running out in many areas, and the threat of infectious disease could produce many more victims.

In 2004, the United Nations secretariat that focuses on disaster relief pointed to this combined effect of natural and socio-economic disasters:

“The impact of the hazards is much greater in Haiti because the vulnerability of people there is higher. Rapid urbanization, lack of land management, the exploitation of charcoal and consequent deforestation make Haitian people more vulnerable to mudslides.”

The head of the secretariat, Salvano Briceño, said at the time: “What is happening in Haiti is an illustration of a combination of vulnerabilities that was bound to happen. Vulnerabilities have been allowed to grow in Haiti in proportions such that any natural hazard would lead to great disaster.”

He urged international agencies and the world’s governments to invest in aiding Haiti to build up its infrastructure so that it could be prepared to deal with disasters, rather than relying only on relief after the fact.

Instead, the United Nations sent thousands of troops, led by the Brazilian army, to occupy the impoverished nation and impose “law and order” in the wake of a US-backed coup that overthrew the elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. An estimated 8,000 Haitians were killed in the period of the coup, many at the hands of right-wing gunmen, some of them trained by the CIA.

This was only the latest in a long series of US interventions aimed at maintaining Washington’s domination of the country and suppressing any movement of the masses to transform the oppressive social and economic conditions.

The US militarily occupied the country from 1915 to 1934, withdrawing its troops only after creating a Haitian army that kept a repressive grip on the political life of the country for decades to come. Washington likewise backed the 30-year dictatorship of the Duvaliers—Papa Doc and Baby Doc—whose victims number in the tens of thousands.

The US media has no interest in this history. Haiti’s poverty is presented merely as a fact of life, with the implication that it is the fault of the Haitians themselves. (Televangelist Pat Robertson, the founder of the Christian Coalition and a leading figure in the US Christian Right, offered his own explanation. The Haitians, he affirmed, had succeeded in overthrowing French rule, freeing themselves from slavery and establishing the first black republic only thanks to a “pact with the devil,” and they have been punished for it ever since.)



Related articles:

Obama administration deporting 30,000 Haitians (20 February 2009)
The US Department of Homeland Security and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, under the new Obama administration, are proceeding with the deportation of tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants. The continuity of this brutal policy speaks volumes about the new administration.According to an ICE spokeswoman, Nicole Navas, the agency had 30,299 Haitians on “final order of removal” last week, meaning that an immigration judge ordered them deported from the US. Some 600 Haitians are currently detained and 243 have electronic monitoring.After the Caribbean nation, the poorest in the Western hemisphere, was battered by four tropical storms and hurricanes last summer, Washington temporarily halted deportations in mid-September. In December ICE resumed the expulsions, claiming that conditions had normalized in Haiti. Its spokeswoman Navas told the media at the time, “We fully expected to resume deportation flights when it was safe. And we made a determination that it was appropriate to resume deportation based on the conditions on the ground.” The claim is absurd. In a January 26 letter to Obama’s Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), appealing for a stay in the “inhumane deportations,” noted: “The storms [in Haiti] killed 800 and have left tens of thousands of people homeless, living in shelters, on roofs and in mud-filled homes. Flooding wiped out livestock and most of the food crops, deepening already desperate hunger among more than 2 million Haitians. The four storms destroyed 15 percent of Haiti’s fragile economy, the equivalent of 8 to 10 Hurricane Katrinas hitting the United States in one month.”The Miami Herald reported recently that the devastation wrought by the storms was “the worst humanitarian disaster to hit Haiti in 100 years.’’According to a fact sheet prepared by Haitian advocates in the US, Haiti’s third largest city, Gonaives, “has been rendered uninhabitable.” Inadequate sanitation and potable water “and standing pools of polluted flood water have left hundreds of thousands at risk of malaria, hepatitis, and cholera. The nation’s food crop has been largely destroyed, as have farm tools, seeds for next year’s crop, and livestock and irrigation systems vital to farmers and rice production. Dozens of children have starved to death.”A UNICEF Humanitarian Action Report on Haiti, released February 3, noted that the combination of storms affecting 800,000 people, including 300,000 children, and food price riots earlier in the year had plunged Haiti into a massive humanitarian crisis. UNICEF reports that 24 percent of children under age five in Haiti suffer from chronic malnutrition and 9 percent from acute malnutrition. The 2008 storms totally destroyed some 23,000 houses and damaged another 85,000 in the Caribbean nation. “The few existing basic social services were severely damaged,” writes the UN agency. “Across the country, 964 schools were reported either totally or partially destroyed leaving nearly 217,000 schoolchildren directly affected,” in a context “where nearly 400,000 school-aged children (around 15 percent of the total number of children) had no access to education before. Sixty percent of the damaged schools are government-owned.”
(...) In a statement to the WSWS, Marguerite Laurent of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN) commented: “Why does Obama’s Homeland Security feel it must deport 30,000 Haitians now, to storm ravaged, famine-stricken Haiti? “When the US deports an income earner to storm-ravaged Haiti, this decreases remittances and further impoverishes family members. Diaspora remittances are the most effective and direct aid to the Haitian poor in Haiti. We do not believe the Obama administration will continue the racist and discriminatory immigration policies of the Bush administration.“HLLN continues to urge the Obama administration to do the right thing and grant relief to the Haitians in the same manner it has provided appropriate assistance to the Hondurans, Nicaraguans and El Salvadorans.”

US halts deportations to Haiti (Jan 13, 2010)
WASHINGTON (AP) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano temporarily halted deportations Wednesday of some Haitians illegally in the U.S. in response to the Caribbean nation's devastating earthquake. Those with deportation orders will be allowed to remain in the U.S. Those held in detention centers will remain jailed, Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler said.The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti Tuesday is believed to have left thousands dead. Corpses were piled in the streets near flattened buildings as the world relief response got under way. The impact of Napolitano's decision should be limited, because the Obama administration quietly stopped deporting Haitians without criminal records last March, said Florida Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek. In 2009, 221 noncriminal Haitians were deported to Haiti, down from 1,226 the previous year, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistics. Deportations of Haitians with criminal records totaled 466 last year, compared to 428 in 2008. About 30,000 Haitians have orders to leave the U.S. and about 160 are in detention, according to the Homeland Security Department. The federal government has suspended deportations following previous disasters. Deportation flights to Haiti were suspended in September 2008 because of hurricane damage in the country. The flights later resumed. Several members of Congress who represent Haitian communities have been pressuring the Obama administration to give temporary protected status, or TPS, to Haitians illegally in the U.S. CLIP

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