Fears of rising insecurity in Haiti

Friday 29 January 2010 16.00
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Haiti - Hundreds of schools collapsed during the earthquake
Haiti - Hundreds of schools collapsed during the earthquake
Haiti - Some children will be returning to school next week
Haiti - Some children will be returning to school next week

UN tries to keep peace in Haiti

The people of Haiti are facing rising insecurity with 2,000, possibly up to 3,000, criminals on the loose and reports of rape and violence plaguing the weak and vulnerable.

Haiti: Earthquake coverage/donation information
Photographs: Haiti in Pictures

In addition, desperate survivors waiting in line for aid are sometimes turning violent in tent camps short of food and medicines.

Deputy head of the UN mission in Haiti, Anthony Banbury, said that while the emergency relief was vital after the quake, 'at the same time it can be a source of insecurity because it attracts big crowds and there can be disorder around food distribution'.

Speaking in Jacmel, a ruined town near the capital Port-au-Prince, Mr Banbury said that it was 'absolutely necessary that we get enough food, enough water, enough shelter for the people, and enough security'.

'I don't think any of us are anywhere near being close to being satisfied, because so much more needs to be done,' he added.

Because of the lack of electricity in Port-au-Prince, 'bandits are taking advantage to harass and rape women and young girls under the tents,' national police chief Mario Andresol said.

He said more than 7,000 prisoners had escaped on the day of the quake.

'It took us five years to apprehend them. Today they are running wild.'

Security was already tenuous in Haiti before the 7.0-magnitude quake, but the police force has been crippled with hundreds of members dead or missing.

The UN says international aid pledges and funding for Haiti now top $2bn, but the task of getting the country back on its feet remains huge.

The US has spearheaded relief efforts, sending in 20,000 troops, 23 ships and more than 90 aircraft to help deliver aid and medical care, said General Douglas Fraser, head of the US Southern Command.

In addition, the State Department said the US was spearheading a coordinated effort together with UNICEF, the Haitian government, the Red Cross and other agencies to combat the potential trafficking of children.

A plane carrying 60 orphan children landed in Germany where they are being adopted under procedures already largely finalised before the quake.

Six were treated in hospital after arrival for dehydration and fatigue.

Schools to reopen

Meanwhile, schools in areas of Haiti unaffected by the devastating earthquake will reopen on Monday and officials are looking at ways to get all students back to class.

Haitian education officials and aid groups will begin a fast assessment of public and private schools in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other cities in the areas hit hardest by the earthquake.

Aid groups and education officials estimate that 1.8m children and 5,000 to 8,000 schools were affected by the quake.

Haiti lacked an effective education system even before the disaster.

Only about 53% of its 9m people are able to read and write.

Government officials and aid groups said they hoped that recovery would provide an opportunity to establish a harmonised education system for the country, with a single curriculum for both private and public institutions, under the lead of the Education Ministry.