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Author Mitch Albom and 9 other people were taken by helicopter from the violent and troubled Port-au-Prince

Mitch Albom, an author and Detroit Free Press columnist, along with nine others, were airlifted from Haiti after being stranded in the impoverished and violence-ridden Caribbean nation while visiting an orphanage.

DETROIT — Mitch Albom, a writer and columnist at Detroit Free Press, and nine others have been saved by helicopter from Haiti after being stuck in the poor and violence-ridden Caribbean country while visiting an orphanage.

The group had to stay inside the Have Faith Haiti Mission & Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, according to Albom's statement on X, previously known as Twitter, on Tuesday.

“A group of us from Have Faith Haiti, including my wife and myself, were transported out of Haiti overnight, where we had been staying since a state of emergency was declared,” he wrote.

Armed gangs took over much of the capital after the 2021 killing of President Jovenel Moise and now control about 80% of the city. Murder, rape, and robberies have become common as gang members fight the remains of the nation’s struggling police and military.

Earlier this month, Haiti’s main international airport closed after gangs attempted to take control of it. Thousands of prisoners were also released when gangs overtook two prisons.

U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain, a Republican from Bruce Township in southeastern Michigan, helped organize the rescue from the orphanage after being informed by a constituent about the group’s situation. McClain reached out to U.S. Rep. Cory Mills, a Florida Republican and U.S. Army veteran, who created a plan to evacuate the group.

The helicopter entered Haiti, landing about 2:30 a.m. on Monday at a secret location. The group only had the clothes they were wearing and were flown to the neighboring Dominican Republic.

On Tuesday, McClain informed the House Armed Services Committee about the rescue.

“Last night, I coordinated with Congressman Cory Mills to rescue several Americans trapped in Port-au-Prince,” she said.

Minutes earlier, McClain asked Gen. Laura Richardson, head of the U.S. Southern Command, if the White House or U.S. State Department had informed Richardson about Americans being trapped in Haiti.

“There possibly were discussions above my level regarding that,” Richardson responded. Richardson later said she didn’t have a request — “not just yet” for “support to bring any Americans” out of Haiti.

During the meeting, McClain did not mention that the rescue was from an orphanage.

Albom has managed the orphanage since an earthquake in 2010 devastated Port-au-Prince.

“I had a responsibility to bring home 8 wonderful volunteers who were working with us,” Albom said in his statement. “But my wife’s and my hearts ache for our kids still there. Saying goodbye to them this time was horribly difficult. We pray for help in making their country safe for them again and we will be back with them the moment it is possible.”

“We were luckier than a lot of others. Please don’t forget about them,” he said.

Albom told the Detroit Free Press that 60 children and 40 staff members remain at the orphanage.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced on Tuesday that he will step down, yielding to international pressure to save his homeland. Gang leaders had demanded that Henry resign and that elections be held.

The U.S. military stated on Sunday that it had brought in additional forces to increase security at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti and to allow nonessential staff to depart. The area around the embassy in Port-au-Prince has been mostly under the control of gangs.

The U.S. State Department has warned against traveling to Haiti by issuing a Level 4 advisory.

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