United Nations expects to send more troops to Haiti | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 18.01.2010
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United Nations expects to send more troops to Haiti

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for 3,500 more peacekeepers to go to Haiti in a bid to control the worsening situation. This follows an EU pledge of over 400 million euros in humanitarian relief aid.

A UN soldier helping a Haitian in Port-au-Prince

More blue helmets could be on their way to Haiti soon

The United Nations announced that it is seeking approval to send 2,000 additional troops and 1,500 extra police to provide military escorts for aid convoys and ensure that desperately needed food and water is distributed.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the increase would attempt to bring stability to the dysfunctional Caribbean state before further disaster struck.

"I recommended that the Security Council boost the number of troops by 2,000, a nearly 33 percent increase, for six months," and that the number of UN police officers should rise by 1,500, or 67 percent, Ban said during a six-hour visit to the Haitian capital.

Diplomats said the UN Security Council would meet Tuesday morning to adopt a draft resolution to that effect, proposed by the United States. The troop surge needs Security Council approval.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

Ban is looking to prevent a further deterioration of the situation in Port-au-Prince

At present, there are 7,000 UN military peacekeepers and 2,100 foreign police on the ground in Haiti.

The United States is also boosting its aid efforts. More than 2,200 Marines arrived aboard the amphibious ship USS Bataan, boosting overall US troop numbers to 7,000 either in Haiti or offshore. Approximately 1,700 US troops were already on the ground overseeing the aid effort and trying to provide desperately needed security.

US commanders promised more than 10,000 personnel in total would be in the disaster zone in the coming weeks.

UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said the extra troops were needed to ensure safety for food distribution because of unruly crowds and growing lawlessness.

International aid workers are still struggling to cope with the scale of the disaster and relief efforts are hampered by the country's collapsed infrastructure, making it difficult to get the aid to those who need it on the ground.

EU pledges monetary aid

At an emergency meeting in Brussels on Monday, EU officials said the total amount of aid from the 27 nation bloc would amount to more than 400 million euros ($575 million).

"We have taken swift action. This is the beginning of what we are going to do to contribute to Haiti," the EU's foreign policy director Catherine Ashton said.

The aid will be used to fund both immediate and long-term relief efforts and the EU is also considering sending a police force to deal with looting and violence in the aftermath of the quake.

Since the earthquake struck on Tuesday, January 12, the number of people killed has risen to around 70,000. The Haitian government says the total death toll - if ever determined - could exceed 200,000, with millions more left homeless.

UN soldiers deliver aid to needy Haitians

Troops, police, and money are needed to deliver aid to the millions of Haitians in dire need

The UN World Food Program says it expects to boost operations but says it needs 100 million prepared meals over the next 30 days.

At Monday's meeting, the European Commission pledged 30 million euros in immediate aid to support medical aid, water purification and shelter. A further 107 million euros have been earmarked for long-term efforts to rebuild Haiti's devastated infrastructure and re-house up to 3 million people left homeless by the quake.

Meanwhile, Leonel Fernandez, the president of the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, estimated that it would take at least 10 billion dollars over the next five years to rebuild the devastated country.

Fernandez said that hospitals in the Dominican Republic had already taken in thousands of Haitians injured in the quake.

glb/ai/AFP/AP/dpa
Editor: Kyle James

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