Widespread Looting in Haiti as Security Personnel Engaged in Rescue Operations

Security situation is deteriorating in Port-au-Prince as criminals and desperate locals fought for the scare resources, with aid groups saying that it could hamper the relief work, said reports.

Over 3,500 troops were due to arrive Haiti by the end of the week to bolster nearly 3,000 police and international peacekeepers who have reportedly been positioned at the airport, port and main buildings for security, reported UK’s ‘Telegraph’.

However, charity workers, report said, had seen little evidence of the security measures and warned of widespread looting and fights breaking out over dwindling water supplies.

Report said that when main prison in Port-au-Prince tumbled down on Tuesday during the quake, inmates took to the heel.

Report said that thieves started at least one mass panic in the city’s central square during the night, spreading rumours about a tidal wave so that people flee the place, leaving behind their belongings.

In addition, thieves descended on a half-collapsed supermarket in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince, carrying out electronics and bags of rice. Others siphoned gasoline from a wrecked tanker, said report.

“All the police are busy rescuing and burying their own families,” a tile factory owner Manuel Deheusch was quoted as saying. “They don’t have the time to patrol the streets.”

The country is ill-equipped to deal with the major unrest, said report, citing that the law enforcement thinned out even before the earthquake and the UN’s 9,000 peacekeepers have been distracted by the collapse of their headquarters and the loss of up to 100 staff.

Matt Marek, Haiti country representative of the American Red Cross, was quoted as saying: “There has been widespread looting of collapsed buildings since the earthquake hit. There is no other way to get provisions. Even if you have money, those resources are going to be exhausted in a few days.”

A Boston-based medical charity, when it tried to get the UN to secure a small area where its doctors could treat injured people, was told that such a request was not a UN ‘priority’, report said.

Valmir Fachini, a spokesman for the Brazilian charity Viva Rio charity, said that he had not seen a single UN peacekeepers on security patrol.

Port-au-Prince has had a serious problem with violent crime in the past although this had been improving in recent months.

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