Riots, violence hamper Haiti aid efforts

Troops, doctors and aid workers are
flowing into Haiti even while victims of a quake that killed an estimated
200,000 people still struggled to find a cup or water or a handful of food.

European Union nations pledged over
$574 million in emergency and long-term aid, on top of at least $100 million
promised by the U.S.

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.

Looting spread to more parts of
downtown Port-au-Prince as hundreds of young men and boys clambered up broken
walls to break into shops and take whatever they can find. Especially prized
was toothpaste, which people smear under their noses to fend off the stench of
decaying bodies.

At one place, youths fought over a
stock of rum with broken bottles, machetes and razors and police fired shots
into the air to break up the crowd.

“I am drinking as much as I
can. It gives courage,” said Jean-Pierre Junior, wielding a broken wooden
plank with nails to protect his bottle of rum.

Even so, the U.S. Army’s
on-the-ground commander, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, said the city is seeing less violence
than before the earthquake. “Is there gang violence? Yes. Was there gang
violence before the earthquake? Absolutely.'”

Keen said some 2,000 Marines were
set to join 1,000 U.S. troops on the ground and U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon announced Monday he wants 1,500 more U.N. police and 2,000 more troops
to join the existing 7,000 military peacekeepers and 2,100 international police
in Haiti.

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.

Roughly 200,000 people may have
been killed in the magnitude-7.0 quake, the European Union said, quoting
Haitian officials who also said about 70,000 bodies have been recovered so far.

EU officials
estimated that about 250,000 were injured and 1.5 million were homeless.

Haiti-aid480.jpg

People take goods from buildings collapsed during last week’s earthquake in the market area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday.
AP
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