Preventing further trauma in Haiti

International community call for use of International Guidelines to ensure maximum protection of children

Just weeks after the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Guidelines for the
Alternative Care of Children
, the international community is struggling to provide appropriate care and
protection for children and families in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. The Guidelines are the
first international document on the care of children without parental care in non-emergency and
emergency situations.

Now is the time to apply the Guidelines within a coordinated international relief effort in Haiti.

The Guidelines stress that in emergency situations, the primary goal is to trace and reunify children
with their families to the maximum extent possible prior to any other permanent solution being
pursued. Even in the worst disasters, such as this, most children have extended family members
willing and able to care for them. No relief effort should inadvertently promote the separation of
children from their immediate and extended family. In particular, children in emergency situations
should not be moved to another country for the purpose of alternative care except temporarily for
compelling health, medical or safety reasons. If the latter is necessary, the Guidelines stress that
children should be moved as close as possible to their home, they should be accompanied by a parent
or caregiver known to the child, and a clear return plan should be established.
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Haiti: Donating medicines and equipment

Massive humanitarian health needs exist in Haiti following the 12 January, 2010, earthquake, and clear World Health Organization guidelines are in place for the donations of medicines and other medical supplies to support the relief effort. WHO recommends that potential donors follow these guidelines to ensure appropriate supplies are being provided to match needs on the ground.

On 27 January, WHO in Haiti also identified the types of medicines and supplies needed at that present time. These needs are identified in the following attachment.
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Haiti: Operation Protect Children

A Whole of Government Response to Haiti’s Most Vulnerable Children

The United States Government is deeply concerned about the welfare of children affected by the earthquake in Haiti and has pulled together its best and most experienced child protection and care personnel from Washington and the field.  Under the leadership of the US Government Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, this team is developing and initiating Operation Protect Children to shape and guide US Government action and to ensure that our efforts are coordinated with that of the international community and that they are implemented in close consultation with the Haitian Government.  This team is working on both immediate response issues as well as planning for the coming weeks, months, and years.

The US Government is committed to ensuring that every child who survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti is safe and protected. There are several groups of children who, due to their increased vulnerability, are receiving particular attention. These include children who have been separated from their families during the earthquake and children who were living in orphanages prior to the earthquake.

Many orphanages are caring for large numbers of children. However, it is important to note that most children living in these orphanages were placed there as a result of poverty, not necessarily because they are without a family. Until the status of parents and close relatives of children in orphanages can be determined, the US Government is assuming that family members or relatives are alive.

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Congressman, son of migrants, takes lead on immigration reform

The San Antonio Express News, in a story picked up by, reports on the new face of immigration reform in the U.S. Congress.

Born into South Texas poverty as the son of migrant workers, a man who rose from shoeshine boy to sheriff to U.S. congressman is the face of the immigration reform bill set to slog its way through the House of Representatives this year.

That’s by design. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, a 27-year veteran of legislative battles, isn’t the only Democrat who concedes the road for immigration reform is steeply uphill in a mid-term election year.

But the bill’s backers are counting on the Robstown native to draw on his life experience to argue that immigration reform is needed to protect Americans and immigrants alike.

“When I was sheriff, you would be surprised how many news reports of skeletons they found in the field: of women, children, females who died on their way to the United States,” he said. “This is painful.”

Ortiz said illegal immigration must be stopped through a reform of broken laws.

Read the full story here.

War refugees struggle to rebuild in Sri Lanka

The Washington Post reports that those displaced by the long war in Sri Lanka face a daunting task in an attempt to return to a semblance of a normal life.

War refugees have found little left of their old lives as they trickle back to their villages in the former Tamil Tiger stronghold eight months after Sri Lankan forces crushed the rebel group.

“We are happy to be back but confused about what to do next,” Subramanium Muthurasu, 66, said. “We have to start farming, but we don’t have the resources. We stand empty-handed.”

The full story can be read here.

Public favors comprehensive immigration reform

The Center for American Progress reports that

There’s no doubt the politics of immigration reform are very complicated and that getting a bill through Congress will not be easy. But it’s important to be clear that the public is quite supportive of immigration reform, especially reform that is comprehensive and does not simply focus on punitive measures. This has been true of the public for some time and a new Benenson Strategy Group poll for America’s Voice demonstrates that it is still true today.

Read more here.

Temporary Protection for Haitians: A first step

Writing in New America Media, Shaina Aber & Christian Fuchs of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA argue that the TPS granted to Haitians in the United States last week is just the first step of a rebuilding process in that country.

The decision by the United States last week to grant Haitians in the United States permission to stay, work and send remittances home under a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program is welcome news. This move was an essential first step in response to the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12.

Temporary Protected Status will give Haitians who are stranded on our shores the ability to remain here during the crisis, and to work and live in the United States legally. Their remittances will allow more than $1 billion in aid to be sent to family members still suffering in the shattered island nation, thus playing a much needed role in the present relief effort. As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti already depends significantly on remittances. By allowing some 130,000 Haitians to legally work in the U.S. and send remittances home to their loved ones in Haiti, the despair of the entire country will be reduced.

Despite this positive news, no timeline has been set for the release of Haitians who are currently being held in our immigration detention centers. This should be a priority. Now that TPS has been approved and deportations have ceased, those held in detention facilities should be discharged quickly and given the opportunity to work and reconnect with their families.

Read the article here.