Thousands more UN personnel to aid Haiti quake relief effort

THOUSANDS more United Nations police and soldiers will be sent to Haiti to help the devastated country where 200,000 people were killed and 1.5 million left homeless by last week's earthquake.

Scores of US troops landed on the lawn of the country's shattered presidential palace yesterday, cheered by survivors. Their arrival came as Security Council members agreed to strengthen the UN force, which already has 7,000 military peacekeepers and 2,100 international police in the country.

Tens of thousands of Haitians are living in makeshift tent villages outside the capital Port-au-Prince awaiting food and medical treatment, while search and rescue staff, including teams from the UK, continue the search in rubble.

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Some 70,000 bodies have already been recovered and trucked off to mass graves.

The UK government has trebled the amount of money it is giving in aid to more than 20m, while a Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal has so far raised 25m following its launch last week.

Although concerns have been voiced that aid has not been distributed fast enough to the hundreds of thousands left destitute, the DEC said water supplies and medical expertise were reaching the capital.

Military escorts will ensure desperately needed food and water is distributed without any violence, the UN said.

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Peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy told members extra soldiers were essential because of the "tremendous" number of requests to escort convoys.

"We are stretched," he said, adding that the UN World Food Programme alone was bringing in 60,000 tons of food for more than 200 distribution points.

Neighbouring Dominican Republic has already offered an 800-strong battalion which will deploy later this week to secure the road from Port-au-Prince to the Dominican border, the only land bridge outside the battered country, he said.

UN peacekeepers are in charge of "general security of the country" while the US military is supporting the huge US humanitarian operation and operating the airport.

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American engineers are also working to reopen a private port in the capital, which was less seriously damaged by the quake than the main port.

An agreement has been reached with the USA to give aid flights priority in landing – after the US military was criticised for giving top billing to military and rescue aircraft.

French co-operation Minister Alain Joyandet has called for a United Nations investigation into the US role in Haiti, saying international aid efforts were about helping the quake-stricken country,

not "occupying" it. It came after US forces turned back a French aid plane carrying a field hospital from the damaged, congested airport in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince last week.

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Emergency medical teams continue to struggle to cope with the devastating injuries suffered by many survivors. Overwhelmed surgeons have appealed for anaesthetics, scalpels and saws for amputating crushed limbs.

In the Montrissant neighbourhood, Red Cross doctors working in shipping containers lost 50 patients over two days, said international spokesman Simon Schorno.

Elsewhere, looting and violence has also flared again as people clambered over the broken walls of shops to grab anything they could.

Police fired into the air as young men fought each other over rum and beer with broken bottles and machetes.

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An Irish citizen killed in the Haiti earthquake working for the United Nations was last night hailed as a true humanitarian.

Ireland's Foreign Minister Micheal Martin led tributes to Andrew Grene, 44, assistant to the head of the UN mission in the Caribbean state.

How you can help nation's needy

Survivors of the quake are in desperate need of medical supplies as

well as food, water and emergency shelter.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is taking donations through a special phone line, 0370 60 60 900, and through its website at

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The money will support DEC's 13 member agencies – Action Aid, British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision – all of which accept donations.

Money can also be donated over the counter at post offices and at banks.