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Obama: Haiti 'Will Not Be Forsaken'

  • Kent Klein

President Barack Obama says one of the largest relief efforts in recent U.S. history is moving toward Haiti. The president pledged $100 million for the earthquake-stricken Caribbean country.

President Obama says the first waves of U.S. rescue and relief workers are at work in Haiti.

"Search and rescue teams are actively working to save lives," Mr. Obama said. "Our military has secured the airport, and prepared it to receive the heavy equipment and resources that are on the way, and to receive them around the clock, 24 hours a day. An airlift has been set up to deliver high-priority items like water and medicine."

The president acknowledges it may take days to move the full U.S. relief effort into Haiti, because roads, airports, ports and communications were damaged in the quake. But he is seeking to reassure the Haitian people that an enormous humanitarian effort is on the way.

"More American search and rescue teams are coming, more food, more water, doctors, nurses, paramedics, more of the people, equipment and capabilities that can make the difference between life and death," Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama is also committing the U.S. government to an immediate investment of $100 million for earthquake relief in Haiti. He says that amount will increase in the coming months.

"This will mean more of the life-saving equipment, food, water and medicine that will be needed," Mr. Obama said. "This investment will grow over the coming year, as we embark on the long-term recovery from this unimaginable tragedy."

U.S. soldiers from a military base in North Carolina are preparing for the arrival of a larger force. More than 2,000 Marines are traveling to the area to help with security needs, search and rescue, and the delivery of humanitarian supplies. More than a half-dozen U.S. military ships also are expected in the area.

Mr. Obama is working with the United Nations and several other countries to coordinate aid to Haiti. He is also sending Vice President Joe Biden to Miami, Florida later this week to meet with Haitian-Americans about what is still needed.

Most of all, the president is assuring Haiti's people they are in America's thoughts.

"To the people of Haiti, we say clearly and with conviction: you will not be forsaken, you will not be forgotten," Mr. Obama said. "In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you, the world stands with you."

Mr. Obama is reminding the Haitian people that help is arriving, and more is on the way.