News / USA

    More US Troops Land in Haiti, Additional UN Troops on Way

    US soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division walk in streets after leaving the Presidential palace en route to the general hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince, 19 Jan 2010
    US soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division walk in streets after leaving the Presidential palace en route to the general hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince, 19 Jan 2010

    The U.S. military has stepped up its presence in Haiti - one week after the country's deadly earthquake - as the United Nations agreed it would also send more troops to help maintain security and assist with relief efforts.

    This image taken from video shows relief supplies parachuting from a US Air Force cargo plane flying over Haiti, 19 January 2010 Author: US Air Force
    This image taken from video shows relief supplies parachuting from a US Air Force cargo plane flying over Haiti, 19 January 2010 Author: US Air Force



    U.S. helicopters landed Tuesday on the grounds of the shattered presidential palace to deploy troops and aid supplies in the capital, Port-au-Prince.  One group of soldiers moved to secure the city's main hospital, where staff have been overwhelmed by large numbers of injured.

    In New York, the U.N. Security Council unanimously agreed to add 2,000 troops and 1,500 more police to the thousands of U.N. forces already in the Caribbean nation.  U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said the extra troops will be used to protect humanitarian convoys.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the council's decision sends the signal that "the world is with Haiti."

    Meanwhile, the U.S. military has been air-dropping desperately needed food and water to survivors to overcome congestion at the airport and other problems that have slowed relief efforts.



    Officials estimate the earthquake killed about 200,000 people and affected an estimated 3 million - about a third of Haiti's population.

    Teams have come from all over the world to provide assistance to the nation, after last week's 7.0 magnitude earthquake reduced the capital to rubble.

    But efforts to distribute aid have been hampered by numerous problems, including blocked roads, bureaucratic confusion and the collapse of local authority.  U.N. officials say despite the problems, progress is being made.

    U.S. commanders say more than 10,000 military personnel will be either in Haiti or just offshore in the coming weeks. 

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates says U.S. troops will support the Haitian government as well as the U.N. peacekeeping mission, but will not take on an expanded policing role.

    The U.S. State Departments says rescue teams have saved 72 people buried in rubble from collapsed buildings while efforts to reach victims continue.

    Survivors have been living in makeshift camps on streets littered with debris and decomposing bodies.  Doctors are struggling to treat thousands of injured with limited resources.  There also are increasing reports of looting and violence. 

    Desperate circumstances have led some Haitians to flee the capital for the countryside.

    State Department officials are warning Haitians against attempting to leave Haiti to illegally enter the United States or other countries in the region because of the risks of traveling by sea.   

    The State Department says Haitians who need emergency help inside the country can send a text message with their needs and their location to the number "4636."  The message will be passed on to aid organizations that can respond, or give directions to the nearest aid distribution points.  The service currently only works with the Digicel mobile phone service.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Montreal, Canada Monday for meetings to prepare for an upcoming donor's conference to raise money for Haiti.


    Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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