PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Agencies: 17/1/2010: There are mounting security concerns in Haiti’s earthquake-hit capital as distribution problems continue to hamper getting aid to survivors. US authorities have taken temporary control of the airport to help distribute aid more quickly. Meanwhile much-needed medical help was on its way to Haiti today after the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort left the port of Baltimore.
The ship, with one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States, will not arrive until around January 22. Comfort will join the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, which arrived on Friday with 19 helicopters on board. It has three operating rooms, several dozen hospital beds and can produce about 35,000 gallons of drinking water per day.
Haiti‘s shell-shocked government gave the United States control over its main airport to bring order to aid and food flights from around the world and speed up relief to the impoverished Caribbean nation.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama met two of his predecessors in the White House, George W Bush and Bill Clinton, to seek their support. After the talks, Mr. Obama said the two men would lead the US’ fundraising efforts through the Bush-Clinton Haiti. At the same time US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Haiti today to assess the damage and convey to the Haitian people what she described as Washington’s, unwavering support, solidarity and sympathies.
QATAR JOINS INTERNATION AID EFFORT FOR HAITI
On Wednesday, Qatar sent a C-17 strategic transport aircraft carrying 50 tons of aid to Haiti as troops and planeloads of food and medicine streamed into a traumatized nation still rattled by aftershocks from the earthquake that flattened homes and government buildings and buried countless people.
UN IN THE FIELD:
The UN has launched an appeal for $562m (£346m) intended to help three million people for six months. A total of about $360m has been pledged so far for the relief effort, but only part of this sum Will be included in the emergency appeal. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is due to visit Haiti today, said distribution of food and medicine was under way. Yesterday, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, launched the Flash Appeal for Haiti in New York. The United Nations said about a third of the buildings in Haiti’s capital have been damaged or destroyed, and have appealed for 550 (m) million US dollars to help three million people badly affected by the earthquake.
INCIDENTS OF LOOTING REPORTED:
UN sources have said that there have been some incidents where people were looting or fighting for food. According to the sources people are desperate. But, they went on to say that overall, the situation remained under control so far.
Many desperate, hungry residents are becoming increasingly angry at the lack of resources following Tuesday’s devastating earthquake. Looting and sporadic gunfire has been reported in crowded Port-au-Prince neighborhoods. Many residents who lost their homes now fill the streets and public parks. Haitian Minister of Civil Protection, estimated on Friday that between 750 thousand and a (m) million people have been made homeless, and about 250 thousand wounded following the powerful quake.
The United Nations estimates that a third of Haiti’s nine (m) million population may be in need of aid. Up to 4,000 prisoners are unaccounted for, with many believed to have escaped from the central prison.
Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime said 50,000 bodies had been collected, but the total number of dead could be "between 100,000 and 200,000". Experts say if the casualty figures turn out to be accurate, the 7.0 magnitude quake that hit impoverished Haiti on Tuesday would be one of the 10 deadliest earthquakes ever recorded.
Amid the destruction, survivors continued to be dug out, including at least 45 found by Chilean search teams. But thousands remained unaccounted for and governments around the world were tallying their dead and missing citizens. Meanwhile, an Australian television crew from Channel 7 helped to pull a 16-month-old girl from the rubble of a house in Haiti yesterday, nearly three days after the earthquake. She’d survived in an air pocket amongst the debris that was being held up by a cabinet. In the meantime, more water and medical supplies were starting to arrive and be distributed in some of the hardest hit areas of Port-au-Prince today. Haitians standing by to help the rescue teams said the situation couldn’t be more dire. The commander of the US relief force in Haiti meanwhile tried to reassure locals that help "is on the way", amid fears of unrest as the nation faced its fourth day of desperation.