U.S. Ambassador to Haiti coming to Miami at two-year mark of massive earthquake for report on progress there
January 6, 2012
MIAMI - With the second anniversary of the Haiti earthquake just six days away, Sen. Bill Nelson said today that U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Ken Merten and other high-ranking officials will be in Miami next week for an open-to-the-public meeting on the current status of efforts to help Haitians still in need.
Nelson will be joined as co-host of Ambassador Merten’s visit by U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, who represents a South Florida House district that has more Haitian residents than any other in Congress. The meeting with the ambassador is set for 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, in the Miami Edison Middle School Auditorium. The meeting is open to anyone wanting to attend, and seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Also scheduled to attend is the State Department’s Haiti Special Coordinator Tom Adams and Elizabeth Hogan, a high-ranking USAID official.
“There are thousands of Haitians still in need of assistance who remain separated from their families here in America,” Nelson said. “Ambassador Merten will be able to tell all of us the latest on our progress in Haiti and what challenges are ahead.”
Besides co-hosting the ambassador’s visit, Nelson and Wilson also joined other members of Congress this week in asking the Obama administration to consider fast-tracking a backlog of approved visas for an estimated 15,000 Haitians who are the spouses or children of U.S. citizens. The two lawmakers signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Next Thursday – Jan. 12 – marks two years since a massive earthquake devastated Haiti killing an estimated 230,000 people. About one-half million Haitians reportedly remain homeless. A cholera epidemic has swept the island. And many Haitians have lost their lives trying to flee.
On Christmas Day, Cuban officials said 38 Haitian migrants, 21 men and 17 women, had died after a boat they were in sank off the island's eastern coast. The boat was spotted in the sea off Cuba's Guantanamo province, some 590 miles (950 kilometers) from Havana. It was not clear where the Haitians were heading, though the Associated Press reported Cuba likely wasn’t their intended destination.