Published: Sun, February 16, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Fire at unauthorised orphanage in Haiti claims 15 children's lives

Fire at unauthorised orphanage in Haiti claims 15 children's lives

A fire swept through an unlicensed orphanage outside Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince, killing 15 children, a local judge told AFP on Friday.

Melton, Haiti's chief of child protection for UNICEF, the United Nations' children's agency said, "The blaze took place at the Orphanage of the Church of Bible Understanding in Port Au Prince".

"We take in children who are in desperate situations", the organization says in its tax filing for 2017, the most recent year available.

"Orphanages" - which in reality mostly house not just orphans but children whose parents feel they can not afford to look after them - proliferated after the 2010 natural disaster in Haiti that killed tens of thousands.

An investigation is under way to determine the exact cause of the fire and identify the people responsible for the orphanage.

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

The Church of Bible Understanding, based in Scranton, Pennsylvania, operates two homes for almost 200 children in Haiti as part of a "Christian training program", according to its most recent nonprofit organization filing.

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Two children died in the blaze and 13 others died at a hospital as a result of smoke inhalation, said magistrate Raymonde Jean Antoine. It says its primary goal is "to spread the gospel to any and all who will receive it".

The government has closed about 160 institutions over the last five years, she said, and has barred any more from opening.

Almost 60% of Haiti's 11.2 million population live to tell the tale on lower than $2.40 an afternoon, in step with the World Bank.

Fifteen children were killed in a fire at a Haitian orphanage which had been using candles for light because of problems with its generator.

An approximated 80% of the children living in Haiti's orphanages have at the very least one living moms and dad.

Orphanages proliferated in Haiti after the 2010 quake.

Worse still, children living in hundreds of orphanages in Haiti suffer sexual and physical abuse and some are trafficked into orphanages for profit, to attract donations, the London-based charity Lumos wrote in a report three years ago.

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