Home>News Center>World

Troops guard relief operations in flood-hit Haiti
Updated: 2004-09-24 09:56

U.N. peacekeepers beefed up security on Thursday in the Haitian city of Gonaives where more than 1,000 people died in floods, after desperate survivors fought each other to get at emergency food supplies.

Toussaint Kongo-Doudou, spokesman for a Brazilian-led U.N. force patrolling the poor Caribbean country after the ouster earlier this year of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said additional U.N. troops would also guard food convoys heading to Gonaives.

The decision to boost security around relief operations was made after U.N. troops had to fire into the air on Wednesday to prevent looting when the first beans, rice and other supplies were handed out to an estimated 20,000 flood victims.

"I think it's fair to say that the situation is tense because people are desperate. Many have not eaten since Saturday night or Sunday morning," said Anne Poulsen, spokeswoman for the U.N. World Food Program.

"It's a concern but it's not a problem," Poulsen added.

The national civil defense agency said 1,150 bodies had been recovered by Thursday morning, mainly from Gonaives, a city of 200,000 that was buried under a wall of water and a thick coat of mud after Tropical Storm Jeanne triggered torrential rainfall over the weekend.

Another 1,200 people were still missing and the United Nations warned the body count could rise dramatically in the coming days because two areas of Gonaives remained under water and inaccessible.

A number of children, abandoned or orphaned, were seen roaming around Gonaives, the Red Cross reported.

The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti frequently suffers devastating floods because most of its trees have been chopped down to make charcoal for cooking. Floods on the Dominican-Haitian border killed about 2,000 people in May.

Aristide, the deposed president, mourned the latest victims in a statement issued from his exile in Pretoria, South Africa.

"It is with great sadness that I watch reports of the devastation wrought upon Haiti ... Gonaives, the cradle of our independence, has suffered enormously," he said.

Gonaives was the city where Haiti declared independence from France 200 years ago after a slave revolt, and it was also where an armed revolt began against Aristide this year, forcing him to flee on Feb. 29.

Representatives from donor countries met in the capital, Port-au-Prince, on Thursday and pledged to quickly pump $84 million into Haiti. Some of that was new money earmarked for disaster relief, and some was to be drawn from gifts and loans already pledged to help the nation of 8 million bring an end to chronic political instability and poverty.

The biggest chunk was to come from the World Bank, which pledged $6 million in the next two weeks and $61 million in December.

Jeanne, now a hurricane, also killed 11 people in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and two in the U.S. Caribbean territory of Puerto Rico.

The hurricane, with winds of 105 mph was 425 miles east of Great Abaco island in the Bahamas. It was expected to hit the northern Bahamas on Saturday and Florida on Sunday.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

China urges Spain to punish arsonists



Premier in Russia eyeing oil, technology deals



Removal of textile trade quotas urged



Crackdown on pirated software to intensify



Experts retrieve chemical weapons



Ferry sinks, killing at least 12


  Bush: Terrorists may plan more attacks
  Gates tops forbes list of richest in U.S.
  Iraq, British won't give in to kidnappers
  Hundreds buried in Haiti as flood deaths top 1,000
  UK hostage pleads for life on videotape
  Suicide attack kills 2 in Israel; 16 hurt
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?