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.
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.
Meanwhile, 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.
The U.S. military is also airdropping desperately needed food and water to quake survivors in an effort 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 battered nation.
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.
U.S. 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.
World leaders have promised massive amounts of assistance to rebuild Haiti, after last Tuesday’s 7.0 magnitude quake reduced the capital to rubble.
Thousands of people are still believed to be buried under collapsed buildings. 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, and security concerns have grown amid increasing reports of looting and violence. The desperate circumstances have led some Haitians to flee the capital for the countryside.
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 Ren