US troops withdrawing en masse from Haiti
Port-au-Prince: The US troops are withdrawing from the shattered capital, leaving many Haitians anxious that the most visible portion of international is ending even as the city is still mired in misery and vulnerable to unrest.
As troops packed their duffels and began to fly home this weekend, Haitians and some aid workers wondered whether UN peacekeepers and local police are up to the task of maintaining order. More than a half-million people still live in vast encampments that have grown more unpleasant in recent days with the early onset of rainy season.
Some also fear the departure of the American troops is a sign of dwindling international interest in the plight of the Haitian people following the catastrophic January 12 earthquake.
"I would like for them to stay in Haiti until they rebuild the country and everybody can go back to their house," said Marjorie Louis, a 27-year-old mother of two, as she warmed a bowl of beans for her family over a charcoal fire on the fake grass of the national stadium.
US officials say the long-anticipated draw down of troops is not a sign of waning commitment to Haiti, only a change in the nature of the operation. Security will now be the responsibility of the 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force and the Haitian police.
A smaller number of US forces -- the exact number has not yet been determined -- will be needed as the UN and Haitian government reassert control, said Gen. Douglas Fraser, head of US Southern Command, which runs the Haiti operation.
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