Burnt orphanage was illegal
PORT AU PRINCE – Haiti’s Director-General of the Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR), Arielle J. Villedroin, said that the orphanage where 15 children died last Thursday night in a fire had not been authorised to operate since 2013.
“It’s a centre which, I believe, receives money from the religious sector, from foreign missionaries, I do not know exactly but without any legality,” he said, adding the IBESR had already deployed emergency aid to children surviving from the orphanage, pending assessment of the need for comprehensive assistance, including psychosocial support.
Authorities said that out of the 754 orphanages in operating throughout the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country, only 35 are authorised to function.
Officials said the fire broke out in the orphanage of the Church “Compréhension de la Bible” (Understanding the Bible) in Fermathe 55 on the outskirts of the capital. At the time of the incident, only three adults were present.
According to the authorities, two children burnt to death at the orphanage while 13 others were asphyxiated by the smoke and later died at the Fermathe hospital.
President Jovenel Molse, who visited the scene last Friday, said “I am deeply moved by the death of a dozen children, following the fire that started on Thursday evening in the premises of the orphanage.
“I urge the competent authorities to adopt urgent measures to establish the causes of this tragedy,” he added.
UNICEF has since expressed its sadness at the incident and also condemned the opening of unaccredited children’s homes that do not meet standards set by national authorities. (CMC)