Just updating you on the latest developments in Haiti as American troops landed at the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince:
Scores of U.S. troops landed on the lawn of Haiti’s shattered presidential palace Tuesday to the cheers by quake victims eager for reinforcements in the sluggish global effort to bring food, water and shelter to the devastated country.
Thousands more U.S. troops are on the way and the U.N. Security Council was expected to approve a boost in its peacekeeping and police forces to help control outbursts of looting and violence that have slowed relief efforts.
Haitians jammed the fence of the palace grounds to gawk and cheer as the troops emerged.
“We are happy that they are coming, because we have so many problems,” said Fede Felissaint, a hairdresser.
…The U.S. military says it can now get 100 flights a day through the airport, up from 60 last week, but still could use more.
Troops parachuted pallets of supplies to a secured area outside the city on Monday rather than further clog the airport. American Airlines said it has warehouses full of donated food in Miami but has been unable to fly it to Port-au-Prince.
A Security Council vote was expected to add 1,500 more U.N. police and 2,000 more peacekeepers to join the 9,000 or so U.N. security personnel in Haiti. Some 2,000 newly arrived U.S. Marines were parked on ships offshore and the Pentagon said more troops are on the way.
The Courier Mail of Australia pays tribute to American leadership:
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AS SOON as news broke of the devastating earthquake in Haiti eight days ago the US Government and military swung into action, dispatching the USS Carl Vinson – the world’s biggest warship – carrying 19 helicopters, hospital and logistical support ships, 3500 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division and scores of medical teams.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama immediately pledged $US100 million in emergency aid and promised that the blighted Caribbean state’s neighbour would be there until rescue and recovery was complete.
These efforts have been built on with thousands of additional troops and the Carl Vinson has been backed up with another giant aircraft carrier, the USS Bataan. The aid effort in Haiti is being led by the US and daylight is second.
It is at times of great catastrophe that not only the might and power of the US comes to the fore but also its values – compassion, practical assistance and an out-stretched and strong helping hand.
We saw it five years ago in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami when the US stepped up to the mark quickly and pulled together a coalition of assistance, leading a team that included Australia, Japan and India. Then an on-the-ground effort, which involved two battlegroups, and 20 US ships also led by two carriers, was backed by a total aid contribution of $US350 million.
As the Carl Vinson’s chaplain Geoff Ross said this week about Haiti the US had the coast guard, air force, army and navy working together to provide aid in way nobody else could do. “It’s the largest mercy agency in the world,” Mr Ross said.
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