Mitch Albom Among 10 People Evacuated From Haiti

They were taken by helicopter amid country's unrest
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 13, 2024 2:20 PM CDT
Author Mitch Albom Evacuated From Haiti
In this Oct. 5, 2018 file photo, Author Mitch Albom is interviewed in Detroit in this Oct. 5, 2018 file photo.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio_File)

Author and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom and nine others have been rescued by helicopter from Haiti after becoming stranded in the poverty-stricken and violence-torn Caribbean nation while visiting an orphanage. The group was forced to shelter inside the Have Faith Haiti Mission & Orphanage in Port-au-Prince for more than a week, Albom said Tuesday in a statement on X. "The airports were closed, the ports were closed, the roads were closed and suddenly we had no way out," he explained, per NBC News.

US Rep. Lisa McClain, a Republican from Bruce Township in southeastern Michigan, helped arrange this week's rescue from the orphanage after being alerted by a constituent to the group's predicament. McClain contacted US Rep. Cory Mills, a Florida Republican and US Army veteran, who devised a plan to evacuate the group, reports the AP. The helicopter flew into Haiti, landing about 2:30am Monday at a location that had been kept secret. Leaving with only the clothing on their backs, the group was flown into the neighboring Dominican Republic.

Albom, who has run the orphanage since an earthquake in 2010 devastated Port-au-Prince, told the Detroit Free Press that 60 children and 40 staff members remain there. "I had a responsibility to bring home 8 wonderful volunteers who were working with us," Albom said in his statement. "But my wife's and my hearts ache for our kids still there. Saying goodbye to them this time was horribly difficult. We pray for help in making their country safe for them again and we will be back with them the moment it is possible. ... We were luckier than a lot of others. Please don't forget about them."

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Heavily armed gangs seized power in much of the nation's capital following the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise and now control about 80% of the city. Murder, rape, and robberies have become commonplace as gang members battle what's left of the nation's beleaguered police and military. Earlier this month, Haiti's main international airport closed after gangs tried to seize it. Thousands of inmates also were freed when gangs overran two prisons. Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Tuesday announced he will resign, bowing to international pressure to save his homeland. Gang leaders had demanded that Henry step down and that elections be held. (More Mitch Albom stories.)

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