Tuesday, January 19, 2010

US Air Force Drops Food, Water into Haiti

The U.S. military has begun airdropping desperately needed food and water to Haitian earthquake survivors in an effort to overcome congestion at the airport and other obstacles to delivering aid.

A U.S. Air Force plane dropped more than 14,000 "ready-to-eat" meals and 15,000 liters of water into an area north of the capital, Port-au-Prince. It was the U.S. military's first such airdrop since the deadly earthquake in Haiti one week ago.

U.S. defense officials had ruled out airdrops before, saying they would cause chaos among survivors and potentially lead to riots. But the military says it has since secured certain areas for the operation.

U.S. troops also descended by helicopter Tuesday onto the grounds of the shattered presidential palace to deliver aid to people in the area.

The rest of the international community is also stepping up relief efforts in Haiti.

The United Nations Security Council is expected Tuesday to approve a request for 3,500 more troops and police to bolster peacekeeping efforts in the battered Caribbean nation.

Relief efforts have been hampered by numerous problems, including blocked roads, bureaucratic confusion, and the collapse of local authority. As aid workers struggle to meet the needs of earthquake victims, some Haitians are leaving the capital in an effort to reach the countryside.

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

About 2,200 U.S. Marines arrived for duty Monday aboard the amphibious ship USS Bataan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says U.S. troops in Haiti will support the government there as well as the United Nations peacekeeping mission, but will not take on an expanded policing role. Gates also told reporters that U.S. troops have the authority to use force to defend themselves or others, if necessary.

World leaders have promised massive amounts of assistance to rebuild Haiti, after last Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude quake. Officials estimate that about 200,000 people may have been killed in the quake, and an estimated 3 million people - about a third of Haiti's population - have been affected.

Survivors have been living in makeshift camps on streets littered with debris and decomposing bodies. Security concerns have grown as hundreds of looters have broken into shops, taking whatever they can and fighting each other.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, visited Port-au-Prince Monday. He reviewed disaster relief efforts and met with Haitian President René Preval. Mr. Clinton also personally delivered emergency relief supplies, including water, food, medical supplies, and portable radios and generators.

2 comments:

TomCat said...

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