Ban Ki-moon Asks UN Security Council to Add Troops in HaitiJanuary 18, 2010 # 8:35 pm # Armed Conflict, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, International Law, International Organizations # No Comment
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked the Security Council to send more troops and police to Haiti as forces on the ground struggle to keep order and speed delivery of food, water and medicine.“Haiti requires a massive response from the international community,” said Ban, who yesterday visited the capital, Port- au-Prince. “The people need to see that today is better than yesterday, and that the future will be better than the past.”
Ban told reporters at the UN today he will seek 2,000 more soldiers and 1,500 police from the Security Council, which met today to discuss the request. The UN, whose Haitian offices were destroyed in the 7-magnitude quake Jan. 12, has more than 9,000 troops and officers in Haiti. At least 46 UN staffers died in the disaster, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
Aid workers are dealing with scattered street violence, fueled in part by shortages of food and medical supplies in the capital, a city of about 3 million people. The quake, which may have killed more than 100,000 people, damaged roads, the port and toppled the control tower at the country’s only international airport, hampering efforts to get relief supplies moving.
The U.S. expects to have 7,000 troops in and offshore of Haiti by today, providing medical care, security and operating the airport.
‘Safe and Secure’
“We need a safe and secure environment to be successful,” U.S. Southern Command Lieutenant General Ken Keen, who is overseeing relief efforts, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday. “There is increasing incidents of security and we are going to have to deal with it as we go forward.”
There are 1,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Haiti, Keen said. Another 3,000 are working from ships docked off Haiti’s coast and two additional companies of the 82nd Airborne Division are arriving along with Marines aboard the USS Bataan and a Marine landing battalion, the American Forces Press Service said.
Brazil, which has had the biggest number of soldiers in Haiti in the UN’s peacekeeping forces, is ready to double its 1,266-strong contingent if asked, General Enza Peri, the Army’s commander, said today in a news conference in Brasilia.
Alain LeRoy, the head of UN peacekeeping operations, told reporters today at the UN the Dominican Republic has pledged to send 800 soldiers to Haiti and that the European Union will send some police units.
The main task for the additional soldiers will be escorting relief convoys to 200 distribution points in the capital, LeRoy said. Relief corridors are being set up from the Dominican Republic and ports in northern Haiti to Port-au-Prince, he said.
LeRoy said that while there has been violence “here and there, most due to frustration,” the situation is “generally calm.”
The number of flights the airport can handle almost doubled today to 100 after the U.S. took control of the one-runway facility, the White House said in a statement. The U.S. is now giving priority to planes carrying relief supplies, said John Holmes, UN emergency relief coordinator.
Medical teams of Doctors Without Borders are stymied by bottlenecks at the airport that have stretched out by two days the expected time for delivery of supplies, said Benoit Leduc, operations manager for Haiti, in a conference call today with journalists from Port-au-Prince.
People are dying and infections, curable with antibiotics, are leading to amputations instead, he said. The organization has five facilities now, three of which have surgical capabilities, he said.
The organization has treated more than 3,000 patients, and performed 500 surgeries with 165 international workers and 550 locals. Another 48 doctors from abroad are on the way.
Doctors Without Borders is trying to reach areas outside the capital that have suffered destruction and often are accessible only by helicopter, Leduc said.
“We’re behind pace,” he said of the group’s overall operations. “It’s really a race.”
International search teams have managed to rescue just 71 people from the rubble, Tim Callaghan, chief of the U.S. Disaster Assistance Response team, said today. The U.S. alone has 540 people working on search and rescue.
Keen said on ABC’s “This Week” an estimate of between 150,000 and 200,000 deaths is “a starting point.” The quake affected 3 million people and left 300,000 homeless in Port-au- Prince, according to the UN.
CNN reported today that there was “widespread looting” in downtown Port-au-Prince. One U.S. citizen died in an “incident,” Agence France-Presse said, citing a military spokesman.
U.S. Rear Admiral Michael Rogers, director of intelligence for the Joints Chiefs of Staff, told reporters today looting had been “isolated” and wasn’t impeding aid from getting through.
Former President Bill Clinton visited Haiti today in a bid to accelerate international relief efforts.
Haitian President Rene Preval said that international aid to his country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, has been “quick, concrete and massive.” The nation, with an economy of about $7 billion, was in a “difficult” situation before and needs institutional reforms and economic development, he said in an interview with Venezuela’s government-funded Telesur television network.
Food for Millions
The World Food Program said it is seeking $279 million to rehabilitate Haiti’s ports, repair the road infrastructure, provide security for humanitarian workers, and donate trucks. More than $60 million has been received in donations from governments, $6 million from businesses and $2.5 million has been donated on-line.
Aid pledges continued to pour in today. Avon Products Inc. said they would donate $1 million; Spirit Airlines Inc. promised as much $10 million; and the American Red Cross had raised $21 million through text-message fund-raising. The U.S., World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. have pledged more than $300 million in aid in the past week.
In Brussels, the European Union offered Haiti 422 million euros ($607 million) for emergency aid, steps to shore up the government and longer-term reconstruction.
The aid effort is being slowed by a shortage of gasoline, Louis Belanger, a spokesman for Oxfam International in Haiti, said today in a telephone interview from Port-au-Prince.
Gasoline prices have soared at stations that are operating, Belanger said. Fuel trucks are being sent from the Dominican Republic to ease the shortage, he said. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
In Paris, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said today that an international Haiti reconstruction conference will be held on Jan. 25 in Montreal.