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American Forces Press Service

Haiti-based Marines to Return Home by End of June

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2004 - Marines now part of Combined Joint Task Force Haiti will leave the island nation by the end of June, Pentagon officials said today.

The multinational force in Haiti is supplying humanitarian aid and disaster relief to Haitians suffering from the effects of severe flooding and mudslides, said Army Brig. Gen. David Rodriguez, a Joint Staff operations officer.

The task force has airlifted more than 35,000 pounds of bottled water and 10 pallets of food supplies to the area near the village of Fond Verettes, about 50 kilometers southeast of the capital of Port-au-Prince. The force also dispatched U.S. civil affairs specialists and a Marine security team to the area.

The region on the border with the Dominican Republic was hard-hit by rains May 24. At least 50 people are missing in the region, and the only road to the area is impassible.

Rodriguez said the mandate for the Multinational Interim Force runs out on May 31, but U.S. personnel will continue to serve in Haiti as the U.N. Stabilization Mission to Haiti sets up.

He said U.S. Southern Command is working with representatives of the U.N. follow-on force. That force will begin flowing in to Haiti on June 1. "We'll have all the Marines home by the end of June, unless something significant changes," he said.

The U.N. mission, approved by the U.N. Security Council April 30, will consist of about 1,600 civilians and 6,700 troops from various nations. They will replace the 3,600 service members from the United States, France, Canada and Chile. U.S. forces in Haiti number about 1,900, and are mostly Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C.

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