The U.S. government said on Sunday it would resume military evacuation flights to the United States for badly injured Haitian earthquake victims after a four-day suspension over cost and treatment questions.
The White House said the flights were expected to begin again within 12 hours. Medical workers in Haiti had said the suspension put seriously injured patients at risk.
"Having received assurances that additional capacity exists both here and among our international partners, we determined that we can resume these critical flights," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.
On a more positive note, food distribution to quake survivors, which has been chaotic at times in recent weeks, went more smoothly on Sunday using a coupon system that targeted women as recipients of the rations.
Nearly three weeks after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake killed up to 200,000 Haitians and left up to 1 million more homeless, a huge international relief operation has been struggling to help injured and hungry survivors.
Hundreds of patients have already been evacuated to the United States for treatment, most to Florida hospitals. But Florida's governor had asked the federal government to share the burden, triggering a halt in the Medevac flights.
The White House statement on Sunday said patients were being identified for transfer, doctors were making sure it was safe for them to fly and that pediatric care was being prepared aboard the aircraft where needed.
The state of Florida is identifying hospitals to receive the patients, Vietor added.
He said Haiti's government had estimated there were more than 200,000 injuries from the Jan. 12 quake.
A coupon-based system to feed the masses of homeless earthquake victims was expanded in Port-au-Prince on Sunday.
More than 200 U.S. troops fanned out around a sprawling refugee camp in the capital's Champs de Mars plaza at dawn for the distribution of 1,650 bags of rice.
The rice was given only to women who had received numbered coupons from relief workers who had identified those most in need in the sprawling camp, said Jacques Montouroy of the Catholic Relief Services group running the distribution.
"You have to install discipline. ... This is the only way for food to trickle down to everybody," said Montouroy.
In recent weeks, some food handouts turned unruly and violent, with mobs of hungry, desperate quake survivors overwhelming aid workers and their U.N. peacekeeper escorts.
Related news reports:Last Mod: 01 Şubat 2010, 14:57