As the search and rescue operation continues — as well as the rush to get food, water and medicine to Haitians in dire need — there appears to be an increase in the amount of violence and looting being witnessed by military and police responders in Port-au-Prince in the aftermath of Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.
Some incidents of violence have hindered rescue workers assisting earthquake victims, said one US military commander. Providing humanitarian aid requires a safe and secure environment, said Lieutenant General Ken Keen of the U.S. Southern Command.
“We are going to have to address the situation of security,” Keen said. “We’ve had incidents of violence that impede our ability to support the government of Haiti and answer the challenges that this country faces.”
According to the Huffington Post, there are pockets of violence and anarchy, reports of looting and ransacking, and at least one lynching of an accused looter as police stood and watched.
Keen said about 1,000 U.S. troops are in Haiti and that 3,000 more are working from ships including U.S. Marines. More than 12,000 U.S. forces are expected to be in the region by Monday and the USNS Comfort, that left Baltimore on Saturday is due to arrive in Haiti on Thursday.
The marauding looters and robbers have been one reasons for the slow delivery of aid slowing the delivery of aid. In the wake of the deadly earthquake disaster, maintaining law and order is the responsibility of the U.N. peacekeepers and international police who were already in Haiti. Unfortunately, though those forces suffered heavy casualties during the earthquake. Some are part of the estimated 100,000 or more people who may have died in the quake.
While there are numerous U.S. police officers in Haiti assisting, there are involved in search and rescue operations and in triaging victims for medical treatment. For example, the 40 New York City cops are involved solely in search and rescue along with their four K-9 units, according to a press statement from the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Global Health is sending additional specialists to Haiti to help assist with the rising medical needs. Reports indicate that thousands of individuals in makeshift medical facilities are in dire need of medical attention following Tuesday’s earthquake.
Global Health Bureau’s Clydette Powell and Robert Ferris are among a number of USAID employees who deployed to Haiti to support current medical relief efforts with their expertise and much needed supplies. Powell and Ferris, both physicians, have lived and worked in Haiti and are experienced responding to disasters. The two are assigned to USNS Comfort, the naval hospital ship commanded by Captain James Ware.
‘Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). Write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write “Subscription” on the subject line.