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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says critics of U.S. Haiti relief are misguided

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she resents criticism of the U.S. effort to help stricken Haiti and pledged to redouble efforts to help survivors of the Jan. 12 earthquake.

"I deeply resent those who attack our country, the generosity of our people and the leadership of our president in trying to respond to historically disastrous conditions after the earthquake," Clinton said.

Separately, the State Department said the U.S. death toll in the Haiti quake is nearing 100. Spokesman P.J. Crowley said the United States has confirmed 60 American deaths, and there are another 37 fatalities whose identities have not been established.

In her response to criticism of the U.S. effort in Haiti, Clinton cited the news media but not other governments. "Some of the international press either misunderstood or deliberately misconstrued what was a civilian and military response, both of them necessary in order to be able to deliver aid to the Haitians who desperately needed it," she told a gathering of State Department employees.

"I have absolutely no argument with anyone lodging a legitimate criticism against our country," she said. "I think we can learn from that, and we are foolish if we keep our head in the sand and pretend that we can't."

Asked whom Clinton was referring to, Crowley mentioned criticism from Italy and France, plus news reporting from Haiti by the Al-Jazeera news network and CNN that he said was unfair.

Al-Jazeera English issued a statement calling its work "balanced, fair and detailed," and said it reflected a range of views on quake relief efforts.

U.N. and European officials reported Tuesday that some 800 to 1,000 aid flights were still awaiting permission to land in Port-au-Prince, a seven-day backlog. And, "trucks are needed," U.N. spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva — especially small trucks because "the streets are extremely congested." John Holmes, the U.N. relief coordinator, estimated that 2 million need food, but only 500,000 have received some.

World Health Organization spokesman Paul Garwood said more medical staff were still needed, especially rehabilitation specialists, to help with postoperative recovery of 200,000 people who have had amputations or other surgery.

UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, has established a special tent camp for girls and boys who, one way or another, were separated from their parents in the Jan. 12 quake, and who are in danger of falling prey to child traffickers and other abusers. The Connecticut-based Save the Children has set up "Child Spaces" in 13 makeshift settlements. The Red Cross and others, meanwhile, are working to reunite families. Government spokeswoman Marie Laurence Jocelyn-Lassegue, the communications minister, said Tuesday that Haitian officials have temporarily halted new adoptions because of concerns about corruption and carelessness in the system.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says critics of U.S. Haiti relief are misguided 01/26/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 11:21pm]
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