15 children killed in Haiti orphanage fire

Elias Hubbard
February 16, 2020

A fire swept through a Haitian children's home run by a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit group, killing 13 children, health care workers said Friday.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear.

"All we see are children living like animals", she said, adding that there were no fire extinguishers.

"We are mosting likely to put them [the survivors] in a transportation centre while we study on their household as well as see if we can rejoin them with their moms and dads", she informed Reuters information company.

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Americas and numerous children living in the orphanage are from families who are too poor to look after them. Almost 60% of the population of 11.2 million survives on less than $2.40 a day, according to the World Bank.

A woman who answered the Church of Bible Understanding's telephone number in Port-au-Prince, asked for comment, said: "We will make it known when it is appropriate".

She did not identify herself and hung up without saying anything further.

The Church of Bible Understanding, which is based in Pennsylvania, operates two homes for almost 200 children in Haiti as part of a "Christian training programme". The organisation stated its "primary goal" was to "spread the Gospel to any and all who will receive it".

Local court Raymonde Jean Antoine informed AFP information company the orphanage had actually not been authorized to run considering that 2013.

The orphanage, run by a US-based Christian group, was one of hundreds in Haiti operating without official authorisation.

"It could have been me", said Renadin Mondeline, a 22-year-old who lived in the home with her son, now 6, for about two years until she started making enough money as a street vendor to start renting her own place to live last year.

Poverty, disability and a lack of access to basic healthcare, education and social services mean many Haitian parents send their children to orphanages or wealthier relatives or acquaintances.

Both practices are controversial.

Those taken in through relations are regularly used as servants or remoted from children within the family and seldom despatched to university, critics say.

Orphanages multiplied in Haiti after the 2010 quake.

Haitian authorities went to the group's second orphanage Friday and removed about two dozen children, but did not close the facility until alternative quarters could be found for the remaining children.

"But, too often, this is not the case, as orphanages can not meet children's individual needs".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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