10,000 US Troops Head to Haiti

Force aims to help keep the peace, aid relief effort
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Jan 18, 2010 3:27 AM CST
People battle for food and supplices in collapsed stores in Port-au-Prince.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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(Newser) – Some 10,000 new US troops are heading to Haiti to aid relief efforts and help calm a desperate nation spinning out of control. Ransacking of Port-au-Prince stores and homes mounted as looters were being lynched by crowds and shot dead by police. "Haitians are taking things into their own hands," said a witness. "There are no jails, the criminal are running free." President Rene Preval said the 2,000 city police officers were overwhelmed by 3,000 "bandits" who had escaped from prison. "This gives you an idea of how bad the situation is," he said.

Other conflicts were driven by sheer desperation. On a ruined street, six young men ripped pipes off walls to suck out water. "This is very bad, but I am too thirsty," one told the Telegraph. There were also reports of starving Haitians fighting each other with machetes over packages of food dropped by a helicopter. UN President Ban Ki-Moon appealed to Haitians to hang on as authorities struggle to get aid through, calling the relief effort a "huge challenge."

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