Third Flight Of Haitian Orphans To Land In Canada

Third flight of Haitian orphans to land in Canada News Staff
Date: Saturday Jan. 30, 2010 10:27 AM ET

Another flight of Haitian orphans is due to arrive in Ottawa this afternoon, uniting children from the devastated country with their adoptive Canadian parents.

The flight is the third airlift of Haitian children authorized by Citizenship and Immigration Canada since an earthquake struck near Port-au-Prince Jan. 12, leaving thousands homeless or injured and plunging the Caribbean nation into a humanitarian crisis.

Officials expect 57 children to be on the flight, ranging in age from three months to 17 years, although there may be more.

“We are working to put as many children as possible on the flight, given the logistical difficulties in Haiti,” Citizenship and Immigration said in a news release.

Nearly half of the children on today's flight are under 2 years old and government officials, a medical team and airline caregivers are accompanying the children.

The children are all orphans who were in the process of being adopted by Canadian parents before the earthquake struck. The department expects more than 200 Haitian orphans to arrive on future flights and be united with their adoptive parents.

The Haitian government has so far approved 217 children for flights to Canada, Citizenship and Immigration said.

A total of 85 children have so far been united with their families in Canada: 24 on a flight last Sunday, 52 on a second airlift on Wednesday, and nine more coming through United States or Canadian Forces evacuation flights.

The federal government has come under some criticism for acting too slowly to help Haitian children being adopted by Canadian parents.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said this week that Ottawa will move to speed up evacuation flights for such children and also to expedite the adoption process.

“I've directed my officials to issue temporary resident permits, which is an extraordinary measure, to allow these children to enter Canada as quickly as possible,” Kenney said.

The Dutch and U.S. governments authorized airlifts of orphans well ahead of Canada, and many Canadian parents adopting Haitian children said the government was not doing enough to help them or their children.

A statement Monday from Citizenship and Immigration said adoptive children and unsupervised dependants of Canadians are “being given priority processing.” But the government could offer no estimate as to how long this might take.