31 Jan 2010

Haiti patients 'will die' because of US airlift halt

8:13 pm on 31 January 2010

American doctors in Haiti have expressed concern about a decision to suspend evacuation flights to the United States for critically injured Haitians.

More than 500 Haitians were airlifted before the flights were stopped on Wednesday.

A White House spokesman told the BBC that the medical evacuations had been halted for "logistical reasons", not over medical costs as was reported earlier and they were working to resume flights.

An American doctor working at a field hospital in Port-au-Prince earlier revealed that critically injured patients could die because of delays.

Up until Wednesday the hardest cases to treat were being airlifted to hospitals in Florida, around 20 at a time, but without explanation the service was suspended.

A statement from the White House said no policy decision had been made to suspend the flights.

Arrests after attempt to take children from Haiti

Haitian police are holding 10 United States citizens on suspicion they tried to slip out of the country with 31 Haitian children in a trafficking scheme.

Haitian Social Affairs Minister Yves Christallin says the police arrested five men and five women with US passports, and two Haitians, as they tried to cross into the Dominican Republic with the children on Friday night.

He says two pastors were also involved, one in Haiti and one in Atlanta, Georgia.

Mr Christallin says the US citizens did not have the proper documents to take the children out of Haiti, nor letters of authorisation from their parents.

He says the children were aged two months to 12 years.

The Americans were identified as members of an Idaho-based charity called New Life Children's Refuge.

Haitian officials have voiced fears that child traffickers will take advantage of the chaos after Haiti's 7.0-magnitude earthquake on 12 January to slip out of the country with children in illegal adoption schemes.