More U.S. Troops, U.N. Peacekeepers Flow Into Haiti

Monday, January 18, 2010

Associated Press

Jan. 17: A man wields a knife as looters fight for goods taken from a destroyed store in downtown Port-au-Prince. Reuters

Troops, doctors and aid workers flowed into Haiti on Monday even while hundreds of thousands of quake victims struggled to find a cup or water or a handful of food.

European nations pledged more than a half-billion dollars, with $474 million in emergency and long-term aid coming from the European Union alone and $132 million promised by member states.

But help was still not reaching many victims of Tuesday's quake — choked back by transportation bottlenecks, bureaucratic confusion, fear of attacks on aid convoys, the collapse of local authority and the sheer scale of the need.

"We don't need military aid. What we need is food and shelter," one young man yelled at U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during his visit to the city Sunday. "We are dying," a woman told him.

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Haitian riot police meanwhile fired tear gas to disperse crowds of looters in the city's downtown as several nearby shops burned.

"We've been ordered not to shoot at people unless completely necessary," said Pierre Roger, a Haitian police officer who spoke as yet another crowd of looters ran by. "We're too little, and these people are too desperate."

The U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, acknowledged that "the security situation is obviously not perfect," but told NBC television on Monday that new troops scheduled to arrive during the day are meant to back up Haitian police and U.N. personnel, not replace them.

While aid workers tried to make their way into Haiti, many people tried to leave. Hundreds of U.S. citizens, or people claiming to be, waved IDs as they formed a long line outside the U.S. Embassy in hopes of arranging a flight out of the country.

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