Disease risk feared as Haiti aid picks up / PHOTO

Doctors worried disease would be the next big challenge for the tens of thousands left injured and homeless a week ago.

Disease risk feared as Haiti aid picks up / PHOTO

The pace of food and medical aid deliveries picked up in earthquake-shattered Haiti, providing some hope to desperate survivors, but doctors worried disease would be the next big challenge for the tens of thousands left injured and homeless a week ago.

Medical teams pouring in to set up mobile hospitals said they were already overwhelmed by the casualties and warned of the immediate threats of tetanus and gangrene as well as the spread of measles, meningitis and other infections.



No one has begun to estimate the number of injuries from the magnitude 7 earthquake, which destroyed much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12. Haitian officials said the death toll was likely to be between 100,000 and 200,000.

One sign of the return to normality was the emergence of street vendors offering fruit and vegetables for sale. Still, on Monday, hundreds of scavengers and looters swarmed over damaged stores in Port-au-Prince, seizing goods and fighting among themselves.



U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said he had recommended to the Security Council that 1,500 police and 2,000 troops be added to the 9,000-member U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti to provide security assistance for Haiti's shattered government.

More than 11,000 U.S. military personnel are on the ground, on ships offshore or en route, including some 2,200 Marines with earth-moving equipment, medical aid and helicopters.

Haitian President Rene Preval said U.S. troops will help U.N. peacekeepers keep order on Haiti's increasingly lawless streets, where overstretched police and U.N. peacekeepers have been unable to provide full security. Monday evening, gunfire could be heard in the wrecked capital city.

 


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said U.S. forces would not play a "police role" but would defend themselves and "have the right to defend innocent Haitians and members of the international community if they see something happen."

Another U.S. military official said the violence was isolated and was not impeding the humanitarian aid mission.

On Monday, U.S. troops protected distribution of aid, which has begun arriving more regularly at the U.S.-run airfield and airdropped of thousands of packets of food and water to those waiting in make-shift refugee camps.

"Long-term development"

World leaders have promised massive amounts of assistance to rebuild Haiti, where on Sunday survivors asked the U.N. secretary-general, "Where is the food? Where is the help?"



Haiti's president appealed to donors to focus not just on immediate aid for Haitians but also on long-term development of the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

"We cannot just cure the wounds of the earthquake. We must develop the economy, agriculture, education, health and reinforce democratic institutions," Preval said at a conference of donors in neighboring Dominican Republic.

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez, hosting the meeting, proposed the creation of a $2 billion-a-year fund to finance Haiti's recovery over five years.



European Union institutions and member states have offered more than 400 million euros ($575.6 million) in emergency and long-term assistance to Haiti.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva on the need for the two governments and Canada to take the lead in organizing donor conferences, a spokeswoman at the presidential palace in Brasilia said.

The United States agreed to take in Haitian orphans legally confirmed as eligible for adoption in another country by the Haitian government, who are being adopted by U.S. citizens.

Disease risk

Rescue teams from around the world raced against time to find people alive under the rubble of collapsed buildings, with more successful rescues of survivors reported six days after the disaster. Tens of thousands are still believed buried.

Jon Andrus of the Pan American Health Organization, the Americas arm of the World Health Organization said on Monday many of survivors are suffering from multiple fractures and internal injuries.

In Haiti, where AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are rampant, children are malnourished and hygiene is already a challenge, the quake has added potentially lethal infections, broken bones, internal injuries and many other health complications.



"By any stretch of the imagination it is going to be incredibly difficult. The population in Haiti was already vulnerable and faced enormous health threats."

U.S. military officers hope to reopen Port-au-Prince's shattered seaport in two or three days, but are relying for now on airdrops to distribute food and water by helicopter.

A C-17 cargo plane, flying round-trip from Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina, air-dropped 14,000 packaged "meals ready to eat" and 14,000 quarts of water to quake survivors, the U.S. military said.

The U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne set up a base at the Petionville Club, organizing orderly queues to distribute water bottles and meal packs to the 50,000 survivors who pitched tents on Haiti's only golf course. Exhausted soldiers slept on the tennis courts.

Fuel prices have doubled, and there were long queues outside gas stations, where cars, motorbikes and people with jerrycans have lined up. Haitian police stood guard at some.

Although a few street markets began selling vegetables, charcoal, chicken and pork, tens of thousands of survivors across the city were still clamoring for help.

Mayors, businessmen and bankers told Preval that restoring security was essential for reviving at least some commercial activity. The sprawling Croix de Bossales food market reopened but with the banks still shut, "People have no money to buy anything," said Joseph Desilme, who works at the market.


Agencies


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Last Mod: 19 Ocak 2010, 16:40
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