Operation Pierre Pan May Start at Miami Hospitals - NBC 6 South Florida

Operation Pierre Pan May Start at Miami Hospitals

Miami advocates are pushing to relocate Haitian children to the U.S.



    Operation Pierre Pan May Start at Miami Hospitals
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    Refugees take shelter in tents following a powerful earthquake that left much of the capital city in ruins January 13, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

    Some of Haiti's most fragile - its children - have arrived at Miami area hospitals and for a few, Miami may become their new home.

    So far, 23 patients from the earthquake have been treated at  Jackson Memorial Hospital, with countless more likely to be airlifted from the island for treatment. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson has contacted all the children's hospitals in Florida and requested that they receive critically injured Haitian children in the aftermath of the earthquake.

    Nelson on Friday said he also plans to introduce a "major Haitian relief bill."

    But the injured won't likely be the only children coming to Florida.

    "Operation Pierre Pan," as its being called, is an effort to relocate the thousands of children likely orphaned by the natural disaster in Port-au-Prince. Many of the children could already have relatives in Miami and around the U.S.

    A similar effort occurred decades ago when "Operation Pedro Pan" was launched to help the children of Cuba during the political upheaval in that island neighbor. Some 14,000 children were relocated to the United States, many of them settling in South Florida.

    While advocates mobilize for a push to help find the children new families if not reunite them with stateside relatives, there are several hurdles that need to be overcome.

    The movement would need the approval of the U.S. government to at the very least grant the orphans temporary status in the country.

    Still, agencies in Miami-Dade and Broward are gearing up for the possible influx of children in need of a home, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

    We've already begun to make preparations and are willing to do our part," said Mark Riordan, Broward County spokesman for the state's Department of Children and Families.