Army Lieutenant General Ken Keen, deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) who was in Port-au-Prince on an official visit at the time of the earthquake, said the Haitian government has designated four distribution hubs in the city and the United States was assigned to run one of them.
“We had passed out water and rations and medical supplies all day long, as long as we had supplies at that location,” Keen said.
The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) operates the other three distribution hubs. Keen said there are plans to shift responsibility to U.S. personnel to operate those distribution hubs so Brazilian Major General Floriano Peixoto, who commands MINUSTAH, can redirect his personnel to security missions.
The U.N. force provides primary security assistance to the Haitian police, Keen said. During an early briefing January 18, Keen said he and Peixoto, who have been friends for nearly 25 years, meet and discuss the mission every day.
“They are doing an extremely exceptional job in carrying out their mission at this time, and we’re working very closely with them under very difficult circumstances,” Keen said. He characterized the current security climate in Haiti as stable, and the full range of relief operations are being conducted without restriction because of poor security.
“It truly is a partnership, with us trying to focus our efforts in the area of humanitarian assistance,” Keen said, “which allows MINUSTAH to continue the great job that they have done for so many years in the area of security and stability.”
Keen said that while the United States will eventually have committed 10,000 U.S. military personnel to the relief and recovery operations in Haiti, only about half of those personnel will actually be on the ground and delivering assistance.
“We’re only one part of this, and the international community plays a very critical role.” He pointed out Canada, “which has brought in forces and is going to be supporting in areas that we have not reached yet.”
Aid distribution points are being set up around the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, as U.S. military helicopters continue around-the-clock operations to get food and water to those who have been without any relief for more than four days, say U.S. officials.
The number of flights into Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince has risen to more than 100 aircraft per day and the airport has received more than 600 short tons of relief supplies since operations began early on January 13, the White House said January 17. The 30 military helicopters from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard are operating out of nine landing zones and drop-off points.
Relief flights into Toussaint L’Ouverture are regulated by an internationally agreed two-tier priority system so that what is most needed gets immediate access and the remainder arrives in a structured system, but all flights eventually arrive and offload supplies, U.S. officials said at an afternoon briefing from Port-au-Prince January 18.
A higher priority has been given to relief flights from the U.N. World Food Program, which is bringing in food for immediate distribution.
The WFP is planning to establish a tent camp on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince for about 100,000 people.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon briefed the U.N. Security Council January 18 on his findings after returning from Port-au-Prince and meeting with Haitian President René Prevail. “I saw vast destruction and vast need,” Ban said in New York. “Haiti needs immediate and urgent support, and it requires a massive response from the international community.”
Ban told reporters after his briefing to the Security Council that he has asked to raise the number of U.N. police officers in the mission by 1,500, about 67 percent over current levels, and recommended boosting UN. security forces by 2,000, a nearly 30 percent increase, for a minimum of six months.
“The heartbreaking scenes I saw yesterday compel us to act swiftly and generously, today and over the longer term,” Ban said. “The whole country, the whole city, has been devastated. And it’s unprecedented.”
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, arrived in Port-au-Prince January 18 along with relief supplies and immediately began helping offload cargo. He was set to meet with Prevail and other Haitian leaders to find out what more the United Nations can do Clinton and former President George W. Bush have set up a global outreach effort to collect funds ( http://clintonbushhaitifund.org/ ) for relief and recovery.
Since relief operations began, before the first U.S. personnel arrived to support the Haitian government, U.S. humanitarian assistance has reached $111,269,341, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Assistance from the international community began forming quickly across the globe. Prevail said at a donors’ conference in the neighboring Dominican Republic that Haiti will need assistance for a nearly complete reconstruction of Port-au-Prince and other areas that will take years to complete.
Dominican President Leonel Fernández has proposed the creation of a US$ 2 billion-a-year fund to finance Haiti’s recovery over five years. And European Union institutions and member states have offered more than 400 million euros (US$ 575.6 million) in emergency and longer-term assistance to Haiti, according to news reports.
Canada will host a meeting of foreign ministers in Montreal on January 25 to look at Haiti’s needs. Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has proposed that African nations offer Haitians resettlement, news reports said.
The Haitian government has said water distribution is the most urgent need for people in the capital and the surrounding neighborhoods, and has asked for water containers and water purification tablets, USAID said
“A shortage of trucks and fuel, exacerbated by the airport’s limited capacity to receive, warehouse and dispatch relief supplies, continues to hamper relief efforts in and around Port-au-Prince,” USAID said in its daily report. The report indicated that “relief supplies must continue to be distributed by road due to the structural instability of earthquake-damaged houses.”
The port in Port-au-Prince was destroyed by the earthquake and will take 60 to 90 days to rebuild, but in the meantime a Navy ship was expected to arrive January 18 that can roll cargo on and off without a pier. Other ship cargo has been diverted to a port in the Dominican Republic for shipment overland.
According to USAID, the Haitian government has asked that all donor countries collaborate closely with the government and the U.N. mission to ensure a more effective humanitarian response. “In addition, the [government of Haiti] has required that all distributions for the next two weeks occur through or in coordination with MINUSTAH, primarily due to increasing security concerns,” USAID said.
Since their arrival, U.S. urban-search-and-rescue teams have found and rescued 39 people, and international teams have rescued 71 people, Tim Callaghan, senior regional adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean for USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, said January 18.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that the availability of health facilities remains limited, according to USAID. PAHO reports only a limited number of functioning centers, run primarily by international nongovernmental organizations. A temporary field hospital at the U.N. logistics base quickly reached capacity and can no longer accept new patients, USAID said. A team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been sent to Port-au-Prince to help local authorities along with the PAHO team.
U.S. officials said a Haitian orphanage was turned into a field hospital and treated 300 patients January 17. One of those cases had to be evacuated to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson for surgery, and a pediatric surgeon was sent to the ship to perform the surgery.
A medical support team from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a USAID health officer are in Port-au-Prince to augment the healthcare capacity of the Port-au-Prince General Hospital and to deliver supplies, food and water. “Doctors at the hospital report a caseload of more than 2,000 individuals,” USAID said.
The U.S. continued to coordinate America’s relief efforts in Haiti with the United Nations and the international community:
President Obama spoke for the second time with both UN Secretary General Ban and Brazilian President Lula to discuss the efforts of the UN, Brazil, the U.S., and others to help the people of Haiti. In particular, the President discussed further coordination of our work on the ground together and expressed his support for the UN and the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
The President conveyed his appreciation to President Lula for his country’s leadership of MINUSTAH, and the two leaders discussed their shared goal of closely coordinating efforts with the government of Haiti and the international community.
The UN Security Council members convened to hear the latest assessment from the UN Secretary General, who had just returned from Haiti. The United States delegation introduced a resolution that would increase the ceiling for troops and police supporting the UN mission (2,500 more troops and 1,500 more police, for a total of 8,940 troops and 3,711 police).
Ambassador Rice later issued a statement reiterating U.S. and international solidarity with the people of Haiti, expressing condolences for the lives lost in Haiti, including those of the UN community, and pledged our continued support for the government of Haiti and the UN as the entire international community continues to help rescue, recover, and rebuild throughout the country.
Airports & Airspace
The airfield is open for 24/7 operations and has a 100-aircraft per day capacity.
USAF air traffic control and airfield management personnel continue to manage air operations at the airport with approval of the Government of Haiti.
There are 33 helicopters supporting relief operations and conducting operations to 9 landing zones. An additional 15 helicopters are scheduled to arrive in Haiti within the next 24 hours. These helicopters are operating out of nine landing zones, including five drop-off points.
The major focus of military efforts is establishing water distribution sites, and delivering fuel, food, and medicine.
Approximately 11,274 military personnel are on the ground or afloat.
5 U.S. Navy ships are on station, including the USS Carl Vinson. 5 additional vessels are scheduled to arrive over the course of Monday, 1/18.
5 Coast Guard cutters are in the area, joining a host of Coast Guard assets in the area working day and night to support military air traffic control, conduct damage assessments and rescue people in need of assistance.
– Coast Guard cutter Forward arrived off Port Au Prince 1/13 and was the first U.S. asset on the scene.
– 3 additional cutters – Mohawk, Tahoma, and Valiant – have arrived in the area and are providing support and supplies. Tahoma and Valiant are flight deck and communications coordination capable, and the Tahoma is loaded with water and medical supplies.
– The cutter Oak arrived in Port Au Prince and will deliver water and medical supplies in addition to conducting hydro surveys and service to Aids to Navigation. Oak has 20-ton operating crane built into it.
The Crimson Clover, a covered, roll-on roll-off barge with two 46-foot extendable ramps and a top-loader for discharge operations, is in Port Au Prince and has begun unloading operations.
7 Coast Guard C-130 airplanes are conducting evacuations of U.S. personnel and other support services as directed by the U.S. Embassy; a Coast Guard C-144 is conducting airborne surveillance and imagery of the port; and 5 Coast Guard helicopters are conducting evacuations and other support.
265 HHS medical personnel are on the ground in Haiti:
– Doctors, nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and other medical personnel who are a part of the National Disaster Medical System and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. HHS activated the National Disaster Medical System and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to assist in relief efforts in Haiti.
HHS medical teams have begun seeing patients.
– More than 300 patients were seen yesterday at a Haitian orphanage, most with acute medical problems.
– A pediatric surgeon from the HHS International Medical Surgical Response Team performed surgery on a child yesterday aboard USNS Carl Vinson.
– A Disaster Medical Assistance Team and the International Medical Surgical Response Team today will see patients at a GHESKIO clinic in Port-au-Prince.
– Members from a Disaster Medical Assistance Team will also see patients today at the Haitian Coast Guard base in Killick, Haiti.
The USNS Comfort is currently underway and expected to arrive on 1/20 with 600 medical personal on board.
Evacuation & Rescues
A total of 2,971 Americans have been evacuated.
FEMA is coordinating and supporting the deployment of state and local Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams from across the country to Haiti.
– Currently, 6 USAR teams (511 total personnel) are on the ground in Haiti. These teams are made up of specially-trained state and local first responders and come from across the country.
– U.S. USAR teams have rescued 37 individuals, and 69 rescues have been successfully conducted by the 27 international USAR teams.
– Each USAR team includes approximately 70 team members.
Food & Water
More than 89,800 lbs of cargo has been delivered.
A total of 20 pallets containing 27,000 Humanitarian Daily Rations have been delivered to Port au Prince, as well as three pallets of medicine and hygiene pallets.
The Department of Defense provided three water purifications treatment units and delivered twelve 3,000 gallon water bladders and 18 pallets of bottled water.
Military helicopters airlifted 26,000 Humanitarian Daily Rations from Guantanamo Bay to Port au Prince.
A DoD C-17 conducted an airdrop of 40 Container Delivery System bundles (20 MREs/20 water).
How to Help
Contribute online through ClintonBushHaitiFund.org.
Text “QUAKE” to 20222 to charge a US$ 10 donation to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (the donation will be added to your cell phone bill).
Find more ways to help through the Center for International Disaster Information (www.cidi.org).
Get Information about Friends or Family
The State Department Operations Center has set up the following phone number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747 (due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording). You can also send an email to the State Department. Please be aware that communications within Haiti are very difficult at this time.