Monday’s Headlines: Haiti Quake Victims Compete for Aid

BY Alicia Lozano  January 18, 2010 at 10:15 AM EST

Six days after the massive earthquake in Haiti, a chaotic aid situation is continuing to plague quake victims in their search for basic needs. On Monday, thousands of troops, doctors and aid workers arrived to distribute much-needed relief for the hundreds of thousands of victims struggling to find food and water.

The Washington Post reported that as desperation mounts, fears spread that Haitians will turn to violence as people compete for much-needed supplies.

The AP has quoted the Pan American Health Organization as estimating that as many as 50,000 to 100,000 died in Tuesday’s 7.0-magnitude quake.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said over the weekend that up to 10,000 U.S. forces will deploy to Haiti by Monday. Only a fraction of them will be on the ground with the bulk remaining on ships, the Post reported.

Troops who have arrived in Haiti have had trouble moving in part because of the city’s overwhelmed airport. But despite the large number of planes attempting to land, waiting lines are actually getting shorter, the New York Times reported.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon arrived Sunday, offering optimism to those most affected.

“I am here to say: ‘We are with you. You are not alone,” he said while speaking from outside the severely damaged National Palace. “Help is already arriving.”

Read Ki-Moon’s full statement.

The European Union pledged more than 400 million Euros, and last week the United States promised $100 million, reported the Associated Press. Top European pledges include Great Britain, which has committed more than $30 million, and France, which said that it will forgive Haiti’s $55 million debt. France will contribute $14.4 million to the U.N. fund for Haiti.

Some 2,220 U.S. Marines will soon to be arriving to help temper the escalating turmoil.
The U.N. World Food Programme said it will distribute 200 tons of food aid beginning Monday to 95,000 people.

But the scene at one delivery site suggested that current food rations are not enough. According to a Times report, a mob reportedly started a riot as the WFP distributed tiny biscuits, about the size of graham crackers, said the Times.

“It’s not their fault,” said 25-year-old WFP official Guerrier Ernso. “They are hungry.”