|Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
Last Update: 1/29 10:48 am
SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 News) – An airplane arrived late Thursday night in Port au Prince, Haiti, and has remained on the ground past the time limit it was given to depart. Authorities with the “For Every Child” Adoption Service as well as leaders of the Utah Hospital Task Force are working on a last minute deal to put up to 70 Haitian orphans on the chartered jet and bring them back to Utah.
The Utah Hospital Task Force charter left Salt Lake City Thursday afternoon with supplies and 110 people. The task force consists of medical personal, interpreters, construction workers and a security team. They will stay in Haiti for three weeks. Among their goals, task force members will try to get a medical clinic up and running.
As for the children, they are from the Foyer de Sion Orphanage. They already have adoptive parents waiting for them in the United States.
Laura Trinnaman with the adoption service had been working through contacts in Haiti for the better part of a week to get the children on the task force plane, but she was informed early Thursday the paperwork was held up because the Haitian prime minister had left the country. The charter plane, she said, would have to leave Port au Prince without the orphans.
But late word Friday night gave her some hope. She was told the prime minister was returning and would meet with the U.S. ambassador sometime during the day Friday to expedite the release of the orphans. Still, it seemed that getting them on the chartered jet would be impossible since strict rules enforced by the U.S. military limit the time an aircraft can remain at the Port au Prince airport.
Apparently, those rules have been bent, if not broken. As of 7:30 a.m., Friday, ABC 4 was told the plane was still at the airport and efforts continue on behalf of the orphans. It is unclear how much longer it can remain on the ground.
All 300 of the children in the three campuses of the Foyer de Sion Orphanage survived the quake, but in its aftermath, they’ve been put at risk by red tape and overwhelmed bureaucracies. Supplies for the orphans have all but run out and the situation is desperate.
Trinnaman wants to take all of the 300 children out of harm’s way and has more than enough host families in Utah willing to take them in, but so far the Haitian and U.S. governments are only allowing to leave those orphans who already had adoption paperwork being processed prior to the quake. That covers only about 70 of the 300 children at the Foyer de Sion.
For more information on what you can do to help, click here. And for information on the Utah Hospital Task Force, click here.