For information or inquiries about U.S. citizens in Haiti, please call 888-407-4747. Outside of the U.S. and Canada, call 202-501-4444. You may email inquiries to: Haiti-Earthquake@state.gov.
Today, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Overseas Citizens Services Michele T. Bond gave a briefing on how the United States is responding to the needs of American citizens in Haiti. She also provided information on adoption cases in Haiti.
Ms. Bond said, "Within one hour after the earthquake hit Haiti on January 12th, the State Department mounted an around-the-clock task force to coordinate rescue and relief efforts and respond to the needs of American citizens. Our bureau, Consular Affairs, staffs two task forces in Washington and two call centers where we have received more than 300,000 calls since our toll free line was opened. The Embassy staff in Port-au-Prince has also been responding to thousands of requests for assistance."
Ms. Bond explained, "When callers contact us either by phone or by email regarding American citizens in Haiti, the workers on our task force enter the biographical information about that person and their last known location into our crisis database. The Embassy in Port-au-Prince uses the same database to add information about citizens’ welfare as it becomes available. We add updates in the United States as people here hear from their family members in Haiti or contact is made one way or another, and they let us know about the updated status of their loved ones.
"Information about U.S. citizens who are believed to be trapped in buildings is passed to search-and-rescue teams on the ground in Haiti. So far, we have opened more than 9,000 cases in the crisis database. Of those, just over 3,500 people have been accounted for. The rest are still people that we are working to ascertain the well-being of. As we receive information about anyone, we do contact family members to pass that information back to let them know what we’ve learned."
Ms. Bond continued, "Meanwhile, on the ground in Haiti, consular personnel, augmented from personnel throughout the Embassy and an additional staff who have been deployed to Port-au-Prince, have been working to ensure that American citizens get necessary medical assistance and are evacuated on all available flights. Thousands of U.S. citizens have already departed on flights to the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. Consular officers in the Dominican Republic are working 24/7 to assist U.S. citizens make onward travel plans to the United States and ensure that they receive necessary medical care.
"As of 8 o'clock this morning, we had evacuated just over 2,900 citizens aboard 44 flights. We currently have 525 citizens at the Embassy compound who will be transported to the airport today for evacuation. And as of 8 o'clock this morning, there were 136 Americans at the airport or boarding planes."
We know that many of you here in the United States are trying to reach your loved ones in Haiti by calling us at 1-888-407-4747, or 1-202-501-4444 if outside the U.S. and Canada. In an effort to assist every American citizen in this moment of need, the Department has also established the e-mail address Haiti-Earthquake@state.gov and a web-based People Finder tool for individuals who are trying to contact friends and relatives in Haiti.
When you submit your inquiries, please include the following information:
• Name(s) of the American citizen(s) in Haiti on the subject line of the email.
• The body of the email should also include the full name, date of birth, and passport information (if known) of the persons in Haiti you are trying to contact. In addition, please include a telephone number, email address, hotel name, or local Haiti address (if known).
• Relationship and contact information for the next of kin in the United States (parent, spouse, friend, etc.).
• Please mention any special needs or urgent circumstances.
Ms. Bond concluded her remarks today by providing information on adoption cases in Haiti. For parents already in the process of adoptions from Haiti, please contact email@example.com. If you have questions about Haiti and adoptions, please visit the Intercountry Adoptions page for guidelines.
Ms. Bond said, "We know that there are several hundred Americans in the United States who were in various stages in the process of adopting Haitian children. They are naturally frantic with worry about the children’s welfare and want to know how that adoption can be expedited so the children can be brought safely home to the United States.
"We are looking at each and every case individually and are working with officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Haitian Government to determine solutions in each case. USIS is preparing to issue a joint press release from State and DHS which will describe the kinds of cases we can assist with now and what adoptive parents should do to help us make a determination about whether their child is eligible to travel now. We hope to announce a plan for processing travel documentation for children that fall into two specific categories shortly.
"Thus far, we are happy to say and proud of our Embassy to be able to say that the Embassy has processed immigrant visas for 24 orphan children whose cases were ready for visa processing. As you may know, our visa office is closed at this time because of the emergency care we have to provide to American citizens; however, visa services for adopted children are continuing to go forward.
"All of the 24 children who have received immigrant visas have departed Haiti and have joined their families in the United States. These cases with completed Haitian adoptions were at the very end of the documentary process and were ready for visa interviews and issuance at the time of the earthquake. The consular section at the Embassy is ready to assist in other cases that are ready to be processed for immigrant visas.
"In all cases where a visa can be processed, we will need to have the child present, but we will work with the orphanages to arrange for that. Parents who are interested in following up on this and determining whether their own child is eligible to receive a visa and travel now can contact us at ASKCI@state.gov."
Read Ms. Bond's full remarks here.