By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2010 – The security side of U.S. humanitarian relief operations in Haiti will take on a larger role as violence increases in the aftermath of the magnitude 7 earthquake that struck five days ago, the top U.S. commander in Haiti said today.

In the midst of the massive international relief effort there, Army Lt. Gen. P.K. Keen said some incidents of violence have impeded the U.S. military’s ability to support the government of Haiti.

“Our principal mission [is] humanitarian assistance, but the security component is going to be an increasing part of that,” he said today on ABC’s This Week. “And we’re going to have to address that along with the United Nations, and we are going to have to do it quickly.”

Keen said they would monitor closely the “increasing incidents of violence.”

“We do need, obviously, a safe and secure environment to continue and do the best we can with the humanitarian assistance,” he said on Fox News.

Haiti has been the focus of an expansive relief effort in the wake of what one official has called one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies in the history of the Americas. Original estimates by the Red Cross were that upwards of 50,000 people were killed in the quake, but other reports elevate the figure to between 100,000 to 200,000.

Despite reports of violence in the quake’s aftermath, troops from the 82nd Airborne Division yesterday delivered 70,000 bottles of water and 130,000 packages of food, said Keen, the commander of the joint task force for the Haiti relief effort that has been dubbed Operation Unified Response.

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