More troops, aid on way as Haiti suffers

More troops, aid on way as Haiti suffers

Offers of help continued to flow into earthquake-ravaged Haiti on Monday as logistical retraints continued to make it difficult to get aid to victims, dpa reported.

The group Doctors Without Borders said some of its planes carrying humanitarian supplies, including medicine, have been delayed by up to 48 hours as they were not given permission to land at the overwhelmed airport.

"We are facing logistical constraints," said Benoit Leduc with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in Port au Prince, adding that it was unclear who was in charge of the country and the coordination of the aid efforts.

Broadcast images showed looting becoming more common.

"People are becoming more aggressive because they need food and water," the Red Cross quoted a 29-year-old Haitian woman identified as Sherley as saying.

   Police stopped reporters from heading into the centre of Port-au- Prince around LaVille, near the presidential palace, on Sunday because of shooting and riots.

The International Committee of the Red Cross described the situation in the Caribbean nation as "catastrophic."

"Given the scale of the needs, the task facing humanitarian organizations is daunting," Riccardo Conti, the ICRC's chief in Haiti said in a statement.

"Even if the presence of aid agencies is starting to be felt in hospitals and clinics, many medical facilities in Port-au-Prince still lack staff and medicine," said Conti.

Access to shelter, sanitation, water, food and medical care "remains extremely limited," the ICRC said.

Limited water was creating health and hygiene concerns while "all over Port-au-Prince, the stench of urine is overpowering," the statement said.

Haitians have expressed frustration with the pace of aid efforts and the absence of a clear response from their government, which did not declare a state of emergency until Sunday. President Rene Preval remained holed up in a police station, and had yet to address the nation about the tragedy.

Meanwhile, international efforts to assist quake victims continued with former US president Bill Clinton scheduled to visit Haiti Monday. Clinton and former president George W Bush have been asked by US President Obama to spearhead the US fund-raising effort for Haiti.

Haiti on Sunday formally asked the United States to bolster security in the aftermath of Tuesday's earthquake. An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 US troops will be in the country by Monday, military officials said.

The UN Security Council planned to approve quickly a request for additional military troops and police to bolster the UN mission in Haiti, which has assumed a leading role in the relief of earthquake survivors, diplomats said Monday.

The 15-nation council may adopt a resolution as early as Tuesday in response to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's request for 2,000 more military troops and 1,500 police to be deployed in Haiti to provide security and assist in the massive relief operation there.

The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) currently has about 7,000 troops and 2,000 international police. The mission also employed about 3,000 other civilian personnel and Haitians.

The European Union on Monday pledged over 400 million euros (575 million dollars) in immediate and long-term aid and vowed to join efforts to fight looting as member states gave a "positive" response to United Nations calls for paramilitary help.

Britain trebled its offer of emergency aid to 20 million pounds (32 million dollars) on Monday, Germany quintupled its aid to 7.5 million euros, the Czech Republic quadrupled its offer to 20 million koruny (1.1 million dollars) and France pledged 10 million euros.

An international conference on reconstruction was also set to be held on January 25 in Montreal, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said.

In an effort to control growing unease, the Haitian government hopes tent cities can be built outside the capital, aid officials said.

The location of tent cities would have to be approved by Haitian officials, German aid worker Ruediger Ehrler said after a meeting between UN officials and aid groups.

The camp would have to house hundreds of thousands of homeless and include facilities such as schools and hospitals. It would need to be near Port-au-Prince to allow residents to assist in cleanup and reconstruction efforts.

Since Tuesday's magnitude-7 earthquake, thousands of people have been sleeping on the streets of Port-au-Prince as bodies continued to be dug out from under collapsed buildings.

   The international community was bracing for a possible death toll between 150,000 and 200,000 from the strong earthquake, according to US Lieutenant General PK Keen, who is in command of US military relief efforts.

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