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30 Americans Rescued from Violent Crisis in Haiti but Hundreds of US Citizens Still Trapped

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U.S. State Department officials say more than 30 U.S. citizens were evacuated from Haiti on a government-chartered flight that touched down at Miami International Airport Sunday. 

Officials say they're also working to arrange more flights to get stranded Americans out as the Caribbean island nation descends into chaos.  

Among those trying to escape the spiraling gang violence gripping Haiti is Frantzy Saintelus, a Haitian-American from New Hampshire.  He's been trapped in Haiti for a month and has already had two flights home canceled. His son Alex Saintelus, who lives in Virginia, is doing all he can.

"I have been praying, I have been seeking guidance from people I trust, reaching out to the government, family, and friends to get the word out about what is happening," Alex said.

As powerful gangs continue their battle to topple the sitting government, the capital Port-au-Prince has become a war zone, completely cut off from the outside world. 

Members of the General Security Unit of the National Palace, USGPN, set up a security perimeter around one of the three downtown stations after police fought off an attack by gangs the day before, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, March 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

One Haitian resident said, "The situation is not really calm in Port-au-Prince, because, like I said before, there were many attacks from the gang in Port-au-Prince, and 80 percent of the capital is under influence of the gang."

Famine is also a major concern. The World Food Program says nearly a million people are at risk.  

Among the Americans trapped in Haiti was best-selling author Mitch Albom, who spoke with CBN News' Billy Hallowell. 

Albom and his wife Janine run an orphanage in Haiti. They were there on their monthly visit when the government collapsed.

Trying desperately to get himself, his wife and 8 American volunteers out of the country, Albom said he could get no help from the U.S. government.  

"We basically got stonewalled and just told, you know, 'Oh, there's nothing we can do, uh, just shelter in place. Are you taking bullets?' And I said, 'Well, if we're taking bullets, why are you telling us to shelter in place?'" 

An armed member of the G9 and Family gang patrols a roadblock in the Delmas 6 neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, March 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)
An armed member of the G9 and Family gang patrols a roadblock in the Delmas 6 neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, March 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

The group was finally rescued last week in the dead of night by helicopter in a mission coordinated by Michigan Congresswoman Lisa McClain (R) and Florida Congressman Cory Mills (R). 

Albom recounted, "We ran outside and flashed the lights so that they could see where we were. And just like in one of those movies, you know, you see a light coming out of the sky, you hear (the sounds of the helicopter rotor) and next thing you know, there's a thing on the ground. A guy jumps out, I think it was Cory Mills, and said, 'Let's go, let's go, let's go.' And everybody runs in, and then of course, that's when you hold your breath because you don't want anybody shooting at you from the ground."

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Albom said his chief concern now is for the 100 children and staff he had to leave behind. 

"When we do our nightly devotions, you can hear all the gunfire in the background," Albom said. "It's such a juxtaposition. It doesn't make sense, you know. They're singing these beautiful songs to God about being grateful for what they have. There's that song, 'You've given me love and a fine family, thank you Lord for your blessings on me.' And you can hear while they're singing that, you know, out, out in the street, like rapid fire, machine gun kind of fire. And, you know, it's a shame that they have to live with this."

While the U.S. and Caribbean nations seek to establish an interim government, Haiti's former foreign minister warns the country risks becoming a "big open-air jail run by gangs" who will fight international attempts to end the violence.  

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About The Author


Since joining CBN News, Dale has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America. Dale also covered China's opening to capitalism in the early 1990s, as well as the Yugoslav Civil War. CBN News awarded him its Command Performance Award for his reporting from Moscow and Sarajevo. Since 9/11, Dale has reported extensively on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe. Follow Dale on Twitter @dalehurd and "like" him at