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Published: Monday, January 18, 2010, 11:29 a.m.

More troops, aid go to Haiti, but hunger persists

  • A woman receives medical attention Sunday after her leg was amputated because of injures received during Tuesday's earthquake in Port-au-Prince.

    Associated Press

    A woman receives medical attention Sunday after her leg was amputated because of injures received during Tuesday's earthquake in Port-au-Prince.

  • Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Jason Harold of Goldsboro, N.C., transfers a young Haitian earthquake victim from a helicopter during a medical evacuation...

    U.S. Navy

    Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Jason Harold of Goldsboro, N.C., transfers a young Haitian earthquake victim from a helicopter during a medical evacuation in Port-au-Prince.

  • A woman prays during Sunday Mass held outside the cityís main cathedral in Port-au-Prince.

    Associated Press

    A woman prays during Sunday Mass held outside the cityís main cathedral in Port-au-Prince.

  • An elderly woman begs for food from people passing by as she lies with other senior citizens outside their nursing home in Port-au-Prince on Sunday. S...

    Associated Press

    An elderly woman begs for food from people passing by as she lies with other senior citizens outside their nursing home in Port-au-Prince on Sunday. Some of them havenít eaten in days.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Troops, doctors and aid workers flowed into Haiti today even while victims of the quake that killed an estimated 200,000 people still struggled to find a cup of water or a handful of food.
European nations pledged more than a half-billion dollars in emergency and long-term aid, on top of at least $100 million promised earlier by the U.S.
But help was still not reaching many victims of Tuesday’s quake — choked back by transportation bottlenecks, bureaucratic confusion, fear of attacks on aid convoys, the collapse of local authority and the sheer scale of the need.
Looting spread to more parts of downtown Port-au-Prince as hundreds of young men and boys clambered up broken walls to break into shops and take whatever they can find. Especially prized was toothpaste, which people smear under their noses to fend off the stench of decaying bodies.
At a collapsed and burning shop in the market area, youths used broken bottles, machetes and razors to battle for bottles of rum and police fired shots to break up the crowd.
“I am drinking as much as I can. It gives courage,” said Jean-Pierre Junior, wielding a broken wooden plank with nails to protect his bottle of rum.
Even so, the U.S. Army’s on-the-ground commander, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, said the city is seeing less violence than before the earthquake. “Is there gang violence? Yes. Was there gang violence before the earthquake? Absolutely.”’
Keen said some 2,000 Marines were set to join 1,000 U.S. troops on the ground and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today he wants 1,500 more U.N. police and 2,000 more troops to join the existing 7,000 military peacekeepers and 2,100 international police in Haiti.
While aid workers tried to make their way into Haiti, many people tried to leave. Hundreds of U.S. citizens, or people claiming to be, waved IDs as they formed a long line outside the U.S. Embassy in hopes of arranging a flight out of the country.
Roughly 200,000 people may have been killed in the magnitude-7.0 quake, the European Union said, quoting Haitian officials who also said about 70,000 bodies have been recovered so far.
EU officials estimated that about 250,000 were injured and 1.5 million were homeless.
Even many people whose houses survived are living outside for fear unstable buildings could collapse in aftershocks. And while more than 73,000 people have received a week’s rations, according to U.N. officials, many more still wait.
So many people have lost homes that the World Food Program is planning a tent camp for 100,000 people — an instant city the size of Burbank, Calif. — on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, according to the agency’s country director, Myrta Kaulard.
Bodies still lay in the street six days after the quake, but Haitians had made progress in hauling many away for burial or burning. People were seen dragging corpses to intersections in hopes that garbage trucks or aid groups would arrive to take them away.
Six days after the quake, dozens of rescue crews were still working to rescue victims trapped under piles of concrete and debris.
“There are still people living” in collapsed buildings, U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told The Associated Press. “Hope continues.”
She said some might survive until today — and a few special cases could make it further: Rescuers pulled a 30-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman from a ruined supermarket on Sunday. Officials said they had had survived for so long by eating food where they were trapped.
Stunned by images of the disaster, the European Union Commission said it would contribute euro330 million ($474 million) in emergency and long-term aid to Haiti.
EU member states also poured euro92 million ($132 million) in emergency aid, including 20 million pounds ($32.7 million) from Britain and euro10 million ($14.4 million) from France, which also said it was willing for forgive Haiti’s euro40 million ($55.7 million) debt.
“The impact of this earthquake is magnified because it has hit a country that was already desperately poor and historically volatile,” said British Development Secretary Douglas Alexander.
U.S. officials, meanwhile, responded to criticism that they have given priority to military and rescue flights at the single-runway airport, which has room to park only a few planes at a time.
The U.N. World Food Program announced that American officials have agreed to a system giving humanitarian flights priority in landings.
French and Brazilian officials have complained that critical aid flights were not given permission to land and the Haiti operations manager for Doctors Without Borders, Benoit Leduc, said the diversion of three cargo planes to the neighboring Dominican Republic had slowed urgent medical aid.
“It’s a fact. We are two days behind on the operations because of this access,” he said. “Of course it’s a small airport ... But it’s clearly a matter of defining priorities.”
With U.S. forces taking a major part in the relief effort, French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet said he wants the American role clarified.
“This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti,” Joyandet said.
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, however, urged governments not to squabble over the problem, telling France-Info radio that “people always want it to be their plane ... that lands.”
Former President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea shook hands with doctors and visited patients at the capital’s General Hospital, crammed with about 1,500 patients. He promised that his foundation would provide medicine and a generator so that doctors there can work through the night.
Clinton is the U.N. special envoy for Haiti and he has joined former President George W. Bush in leading a campaign for donations to help the country.



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