The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to boost the number of U.N. troops and police in Haiti by 3,500 to help maintain peace and security and support earthquake relief efforts, Reuters reported.
The full strength of the United Nations' Haiti force, known as MINUSTAH, will rise to 12,651, up from the previous level of around 9,000.
Chinese U.N. Ambassador Zhang Yesui, council president for the month of January, told reporters after the vote that the increase has a six-month mandate but his words appeared to leave open the option that it could be extended.
All 15 members of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution, which said the increase was a recognition of "the dire circumstances and urgent need for a response."
"I am ... grateful to the Security Council for their swift action," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters, adding that it was "a clear signal that the world is with Haiti."
It was important to do everything necessary to get the additional forces on the ground as soon as possible, he said, adding that it could be done "quite quickly."
U.N. blue-helmeted troops have been struggling to help keep order and deliver aid after the January 12 quake wrecked the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince and killed as many as 200,000 people.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy told reporters the main task of the reinforcements would be to escort aid convoys.
U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff welcomed the increase in peacekeepers and made clear the United Nations, not the United States, was in charge of coordinating the humanitarian response to the disaster.
"The U.S. effort there is to support the U.N. and the Haitian government," Wolff said. "We will support them how best we can."
More than 11,000 U.S. military personnel are on the ground in Haiti but Wolff said he was not aware of plans for any of them to join the U.N. force. The only country so far to have made a firm proposal for MINUSTAH is Haiti's neighbor, the Dominican Republic, which has offered an 800-strong battalion.
Ban raised concerns about haphazard aid efforts saying there was a risk that "unsolicited and uncoordinated supplies and personnel entering the country will stretch limited logistical resources and interfere with the delivery of vital aid."
He appealed to private aid groups to work closely with the United Nations "to make sure that our joint efforts complement one another."