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International Community Struggles to Feed, Shelter Haitian Earthquake Victims

A tent city in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
A tent city in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Haitian President Rene Preval is calling for 200,000 more tents to house the many people still homeless from the January 12 earthquake that killed an estimated 200,000 Haitians and destroyed much of the capital.

As many as one million people are homeless in Port-au-Prince alone, and many are in desperate need of aid. Health Minister Alex Larson says the government is trying to relocate as many as 400,000 residents to temporary tent camps in place outside the ruined city.

Non-governmental relief agencies, as well as U.S. military personnel and U.N. peacekeepers, are struggling to deliver desperately needed food, water and medical supplies. U.N. peacekeepers at one distribution site fired warning shots in an attempt to pacify starving Haitians who threatened to overrun the site.

Lewis Lucke, the U.S. State Department's coordinator for relief and reconstruction, says the biggest challenge facing relief workers is getting food to those who need it.

The World Food Program appealed Monday to the world's militaries to contribute rations to the earthquake victims.

The U.N. agency says it already has delivered 2.6 million rations, equal to eight million meals, to nearly 400,000 people.

The head of the U.S. relief effort in Haiti, Lieutenant-General Ken Keen, says the shortage of medical aid is also one of the country's most pressing problems. He praised doctors and relief organizations for setting up crucial makeshift medical centers throughout the capital, and says the U.S. and the U.N. will double efforts to treat the victims.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive called for a long-term international commitment to help rebuild his nation at an international donors conference in Montreal, Canada Monday.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the rebuilding will take at least "10 years of hard work." U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a focus on agriculture for Haiti's long-term development.

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