US Defense Secretary Sending More Ships To Haiti
By Dialogo January 20, 2010 U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in India Wednesday the port-clearing ship will help remove debris that has prevented larger ships with food and other vital supplies from making deliveries to help those affected by last week’s powerful earthquake. His comments come as U.S. military steps up its presence in Haiti On Tuesday, U.S. helicopters landed on the grounds of the shattered presidential palace to deploy troops and aid supplies in Port-au-Prince. Later Wednesday, a U.S. Navy hospital ship equipped with 1,000 beds is expected to arrive. Two critically injured boys were airlifted to the ship late Tuesday for emergency surgery. In New York, the U.N. Security Council agreed to add 2,000 troops and 1,500 more police to the thousands of U.N. forces already in Haiti. U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said the extra troops will be used to protect humanitarian convoys. Teams from all over the world have come to Haiti to provide assistance after last week’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake. But efforts to distribute aid have been hampered by numerous problems, including blocked roads, bureaucratic confusion and the collapse of local authority. U.N. officials say despite the problems, progress is being made. Search and rescue teams from several countries have freed 90 people buried under collapsed buildings, including an elderly woman on Tuesday who was trapped under rubble for a full week. Officials estimate the earthquake killed about 200,000 people and affected an estimated three million — about a third of Haiti’s population. Haitian authorities said 75,000 have been buried in mass graves. The U.S. State Department says Haitians who need emergency help inside the country can send a text message with their needs and their location to the number “4636.” That message will be passed on to aid organizations that can respond, or give directions to the nearest aid distribution points. The service currently only works with the Digicel mobile phone service. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Montreal, Canada Monday for meetings to prepare for an upcoming donor’s conference to raise money for Haiti.