Haitian President is alive but nowhere to live: Clinton

Haitian President is alive but nowhere to live: Clinton

Haitian President is alive but nowhere to live: Clinton

A view of the Presidential Palace, which was severely damaged in the massive earthquake that rocked Haiti, in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday. AP"The government buildings in Haiti were severely damaged. The President is alive but has nowhere to live. There is no communications system," Clinton told reporters at Honolulu in Hawaii, before heading towards Washington.

The US is attempting to help set up a communications capability for the government, she said.

The UN, which provided a lot of the authoritative assistance for the Haitian Government, not only through MINUSTAH, the peacekeeping operation, but a very large UN mission that was focused on helping us to implement this broad plan for development and economic growth, has been devastated, Clinton said.

"So both the Haitian Government and the United Nations were particularly hard hit," she added.

"This is going to be one of the highest in terms of loss of life in recent years, so far as we can tell. The estimates are very high. I don't want to repeat them because we can't verify them; we just know what we're hearing anecdotally. But the Indian Ocean tsunami was such a terrible tragedy and with such high loss of life," Clinton said.

She said, "I have spoken with President (Barack Obama), the National Security Council, (Defense) Secretary Gates, (USAID) Administrator (Rajiv) Shah, as well as numerous other State Department officials, to talk through exactly what is happening on the ground," she said.

"I delayed my departure this morning in order to make additional calls, to gather more information, and to get thoroughly briefed by the military as well as our civilian teams about how quickly assistance was flowing, what kind of assistance was needed," Clinton said.

"The situation is horrific and, unfortunately, we do not have the kind of information yet that gives us a roadmap as to how we're going to be able to respond effectively, although we are moving a lot of our assets to position them to be able to do so," Clinton said.

There are about 40,000 to 45,000 American nationals in Haiti, she said, adding that it is America's chief responsibility to make sure that they are safe, to evacuate those who need medical care.

"The Coast Guard was able to get close to Port-au-Prince -– the port has some damage as well -– and through the use of helicopters, air-evacuated a number of American citizens," she said.

Clinton said the international nature of this crisis is a real opportunity as well as a challenge. "The UN is deeply troubled by the reports coming out of the UN mission. As you know, there are at least 7,000 Brazilian peacekeepers on the ground. But the head of the UN mission has not been found yet. We will look closely with the UN," she said.

She said her husband and former President Bill Clinton, who also happens to be the UN Special Envoy to the country, is closely communicating with and working with American principals from the White House, the State Department and USAID besides the UN.

"We're going to give the people of Haiti the support they need as they go through yet another catastrophe," she told reporters.

Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P J Crowley said a number of countries have come forward to provide aid to Haiti.

The list of countries include the Netherlands, Iceland, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Brazil, Canada, Belize, Nicaragua, Cuba, Morocco, the Dominican Republic.

"We think that there are search and rescue assets en route to Haiti from France and the United Kingdom," he said.

Meanwhile, there was outpouring of donations from Americans. Till last evening, the Red Cross had received USD 828,000 from 82,800 donors by using a text messaging service, Crowley said.

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