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Bill Clinton in Haiti as Relief Efforts Make Progress

VOA News 18 January 2010

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, is visiting that earthquake-ravaged country, where relief efforts are gaining momentum as tens of thousands of survivors await food, water and other basic necessities.

Mr. Clinton is accompanied by daughter Chelsea. He arrived in the devastated capital, Port-au-Prince, Monday to assess disaster relief efforts and meet with Haitian President René Preval. Mr. Clinton's foundation said he will deliver emergency relief supplies including water, food, medical supplies, solar flash lights, portable radios and generators during his visit.

World leaders have promised massive amounts of assistance to rebuild the capital, after last Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude quake left the city and surrounding areas in ruins, and thousands dead, homeless or injured.

Survivors have been living in makeshift camps on streets that are strewn with debris and decomposing bodies. Concerns about security have grown as hundreds of looters break into shops to take whatever they can find and fight among themselves.

But, the U.S. Army's commander on the ground, Lieutenant-General Ken Keen, says the city is seeing less violence than before last week's earthquake. The United States has taken over the airport in Port-au-Prince and is deploying thousands of troops to provide security to emergency workers.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who traveled to Haiti Sunday, has asked the Security Council to send 3,500 extra troops and police to Haiti.

As aid workers struggle to meet the needs of earthquake victims, some Haitians have begun leaving the capital in an effort to reach the countryside. It is estimated that the quake affected some three million people - about a third of Haiti's population.

Separately, Haitians complain that President Preval has been largely absent since the quake flattened nearly the entire capital last week.

The presidential palace collapsed in the quake. Mr. Preval and members of his government have been meeting in a police station outside the city. Critics say he has spent more time talking to international media than to his own people. The president has yet to make a national address on the crisis.

Officials estimate some 200,000 people may have been killed in the quake. Tens of thousands of bodies have been buried in mass graves.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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