Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Just About All" U.S. Embassy Personnel in Haiti Accounted For

From today's on-the-record briefing by State Department Counselor Cheryl Mills, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and U.S. SOUTHCOM Commander General Douglas Fraser:

In terms of Embassy personnel on the ground there, we have about 172 personnel who are there under chief-of-mission authority. As of 8:00 a.m., we had accounted for just about all of them. There were eight personnel who were wounded, four who had been seriously wounded. We have already had U.S. Coast Guard heels on the ground to be able to medevac them to get appropriate care. And so we are beginning to see that happen as well.

We have ordered the departure of approximately 80 Embassy spouses, children, and non-essential personnel. Those will begin happening later today so that we can ensure that the infrastructure and resources that are there can be properly concentrated on those who are in need. The Coast Guard will have planes actually arriving, I believe, this afternoon. And I’m sure General Fraser will be able to speak to that to help and assist in that evacuation process.

The Embassy structure has remained intact and so it has become a point of support. And it has been providing medical support and other support for Haitians and Americans and others who have been able to reach the Embassy.

Those Fortress Embassies occasionally have their uses. The U.S. Mission in Haiti is fortunate to have moved into a new office complex last year, a nice seismically-resistant one with lots of infrastructure support, independant electrical power and water treatment, and which is located close to the airport. The old embassy was a rickety little structure and was way too close to the now-devastated center of Port-au-Prince; in fact, it was only eight blocks from the National Palace that collapsed.


Peggy said...

What about locally employed staff of the Embassy? Have all the Haitian Embassy employees been accounted for? Are any wounded or deceased?

LE staff account for the largest number of employees in most U.S. Embassies worldwide, and their work and contributions are key to carrying out US goals. Please let your readers know about the well-being of Embassy Haiti local staff.

Thank you

TSB said...


I wish I had more information about the locally engaged staff, but there's been almost no news about them coming from official spokesmen. There was a press interview with an embassy officer on January 15 (see: which indicated that only about half of the local staff had been in contact with the embassy as of that date. There were also reports that some local staff and their families were getting medical assistance.

I hope there will be a comprehensive accounting of the LES soon. I'll pass on any publicly available information about them that I find. Meanwhile, I'll keep hoping and praying.