World Vision warns of grave impact on Haitian children as violence escalates, missionary evacuated

By The Christian Post |
World Vision
Global Christian humanitarian aid organization World Vision has warned that children in Haiti are facing grave insecurity as escalating violence in the troubled Caribbean nation continues to lead to the death and displacement of thousands.

“The restriction on free mobility, the closure of businesses, and the difficulties in the supply of products is exacerbating hunger in a country where food insecurity and malnutrition is already chronic,” Joao Diniz, World Vision’s regional leader for Latin America and the Caribbean said in a statement shared with The Christian Post Wednesday. “Children are the most affected; thousands have no food, several medical centers have closed due to insecurity, and too many [families] have been displaced due to violence.”  

 According to the aid organization more than 5,000 people were killed in Haiti in 2023 and since the escalation of violence began on Feb. 29, more than 15,000 people have been displaced from their homes, bringing the number of displaced Haitians to an estimated 362,000. Nearly three in four of the country’s 11.4 million citizens are also now grappling with food insecurity, according to data from the World Food Program.

“Since the beginning of the crisis, more than 1,000 schools have been closed because of the violence and because some schools are being used to house displaced people. This means that more than a half a million children are not able to go to school,” Lesly Michaud, program director for World Vision in Haiti, said. “We are living in a country where 70 percent of the population is young. And when you are not offering any opportunity to the youth and then they are being exposed to violence, the main exit is mostly either migration or [a turn] to gang activities. We need to give young people opportunities.” 

Diniz implored the international community work to ensure the protection of Haiti’s vulnerable children as Michaud called for prayers.

“Restoring safe conditions to provide humanitarian aid in Haiti is urgent. Failure to do so anticipates a deterioration in the living conditions of children and an increase in irregular migration flows of people fleeing extreme poverty, insecurity and hunger,” Diniz warned.

“We are also calling for prayer and for everyone to advocate [on behalf] of Haitian children,” Michaud said. “We want this next generation of children to see the international community responding to their concern, bringing hope that one day the situation will improve.”

The call from World Vision comes as the State Department and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, evacuated more Americans, including missionaries who were trapped in Haiti after gangs took over the airport in the Haitian capital, Port–Au–Prince.

DeSantis, who pledged to evacuate Floridians including missionaries stranded in Haiti on Friday, made good on that promise with the evacuation of 14 people on Wednesday, according to CNN.

“This will be the first of probably many flights to bring people — U.S. citizens, Florida residents, obviously — who are in harm’s way, given what’s going on in Haiti,” DeSantis said.

Kevin Guthrie, executive director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said about 360 Floridians were still in Haiti Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the State Department also told CNN that a government-chartered flight had evacuated “over 15 U.S. citizens” from Port-au-Prince, and they expect more than 30 Americans will be able to board U.S. government flights daily as needed.

“We will continue to monitor demand from U.S. citizens for assistance in departing Haiti on a real-time basis,” the spokesperson said. “The overall security situation, availability and reliability of commercial transportation, and U.S. citizen demand will all influence the duration of this departure assistance.”

Deputy State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said during a press briefing on Wednesday that the government’s chartered helicopter flights were going from Port-au-Prince to the Dominican Republic. He said Americans will be responsible for their own travel home after that.

Americans who take U.S. government chartered flights out of Haiti must agree to reimburse the cost, which the State Department said will not exceed the price of a reasonable commercial flight prior to the crisis. DeSantis noted, however, that Americans evacuated by his team will not be charged.

“These are tough situations,” the Florida governor said. “I think the last thing these people want is to get stuck with a bill when they’re just basically running for their lives.”

The Love A Neighbor ministry, co-founded by Missionary Jill Dolan, revealed in a statement on Facebook Thursday that she was still trapped in the violence-torn country with four of her adopted children.

“Starting March 12th, Jill Dolan of Love A Neighbor began bravely reporting to the U.S. media regarding the U.S. govt's seeming lack of interest in helping U.S. citizens get out of Haiti. Our amazing ministry partners did the same: Lynn Joseph of Mission of Grace and Doodle Cinotti of Team Haiti. In my opinion, these reports 'inspired' the Biden admin's State Dept. to begin evacuating U.S. citizens from Port-au-Prince on Wed. 3/20,” the ministry said.

“Also, Florida Gov Ron DeSantis engaged FL Div. of Emergency Mgmt. to rescue American citizens from Haiti. This process will take many days due to the dangerous and fluid nature of gang violence paralyzing most of Port-au-Prince, as well as the capacity of 30 citizens per day per the State Dept. We are extremely grateful for all the heroes helping [to] make this happen,” they continued. “Jill is still in Haiti and is on all the evacuation lists. She's praying she will get to FL in time for Sarah Dolan 's wedding this Saturday! Thank you for your continued prayers for that, and for Haiti's brighter future.”

Patel said Wednesday that some 1,600 people have filled out a crisis intake form. Some, he said, are seeking general help or specific assistance leaving Haiti.

He noted at a press conference on Tuesday that not everyone who filled out the form is seeking help.

"Some just want to stay in touch with the embassy," he said. "Some just want to see what information we have to share with them, advice on how they may be able to remain safely, and to potentially stay in touch if they choose to potentially depart in the future."

Miriam Cinotti, a Jacksonville bakery owner who works with Mission of Grace and was trapped in Haiti for three weeks, was recently evacuated from Haiti, thanks to Project Dynamo, an organization that specializes in evacuation operations.

“It was scary,” the missionary told NBC News about her experience being trapped in a remote village.

“We couldn’t get to where the help was coming to, we couldn’t get to Cap-Haitien, we couldn’t get to, you know, different places, even get on a government plane,” she said.

Cinotti who has been traveling to Haiti for missionary work for the last 14 years said she had witnessed violence in the country before and she intends to continue praying for the people.

“We’ve heard gunshots, we’d been there when roads were blocked. I’ve never felt scared enough not to go,” she said.

“The people in Haiti still need the love, they need your funds to missions,” she added. “We’re never going to forget Haiti, and I will forever keep putting them up there and lifting them up.”

Originally published by The Christian Post