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Obama, Haitian President Meet, Exchange Pledges
March 10, 2010

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The Haitian Earthquake

Two months after a devastating earthquake rocked his country's capital city, Haitian President Rene Preval visited the White House to thank the U.S. for the hundreds of millions or dollars in aid sent after the 7.0-magnitude quake rocked Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12.

President Barack Obama was planning to ask Congress for more than $1 billion more money in aid for Haiti, which Preval said his country desperately needs in order to try to get out from under the $14 billion in damage that the earthquake caused. The Haitian president also requested that future aid take the form of forward-looking items like seeds, fertilizers, and tools to grow food and money and workers to help rebuild schools and hospitals.

Preval's visit, his first with the new U.S. president, came on the heels of a forecast that Haiti's rainy season, fast approaching, would be wetter than normal – a staggering prediction for a capital city and country that are still essentially reeling from the massive earthquake that killed more than 220,000 and left more than a million people homeless. The plan, Preval said, was to move some of the enormous population outside the capital city, which was overcrowded before the quake hit.

The U.S. is downsizing its military presence in Haiti, from 22,000 to about 10,000 (4,700 on land and 5,300 on armed forces ships). The highest-profile U.S. Navy vessel, the Comfort, was leaving for home, after treating nearly 900 patients, including 540 critically injured.

Aid in the form of food, medicine, and money continues to flow into Haiti. The American Red Cross pledged an additional $24.4 million, putting the charity's total donations over the $100 million mark. In addition, a small army of Red Cross workers has been on the ground since the quake, providing shelter supplies, medical kits, cooking tools, mosquito nets, and even tents. In addition, Red Cross workers have immunized more than 100,000 people against measles, tetanus, pertussis, and diphtheria.

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