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Europe Pledges More Than $500 Million in Haiti Quake Relief

The European Union on Monday pledged nearly $200 million in short-term aid to help Haiti recover from the earthquake and is earmarking almost $300 million in longer-term assistance. Individual European countries have also pledged more than $100 million.

European Union ministers meeting in Brussels agreed to boost support for Haiti, ravaged by a devastating earthquake that struck last week. At a news conference in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced the 27-member block has decided to earmark roughly $197 million in short term assistance for the Caribbean island nation. She praised Europe's response to date.

"We have taken swift action," she said. "We have immediately made available more than $20 million euros to assist on the ground as well as the individual member states, who have sent a whole range of individual requirements to fulfill the needs - from individuals to support medically, help with water sanitation, to provide the logistial support that's necessary."

EU officials announced the block is also considering nearly $300-million in longer-term aid to help Haiti recover.

The short term aid is a mix of new money and money already earmarked for Haiti. And it includes more than $4.3 million already pledged by the EU. It comes as relief workers struggle to reach needy Haitians amid logistical logjams. Ashton acknowledged the problems, but said help was on the way.

"What you're seeing and reporting, quite understandably, are people who are desperately looking for food and support. It is coming through. But there are an awful lot of people - three million people we anticipate - who are homeless, who have lost loved ones, who are in great difficulty, maybe injured," said Ashton. "So it will take time. And we need to get the effort moving as quickly as we possibly can.

Besides offering emergency assistance, the EU will also be offering professional assistance for the Haitian government to function. Government buildings have been damaged and civil servants have been killed and injured in the quake. Ashton said the international community would hold an aid conference for Haiti, although the time and the place have not yet been decided.